Page 1


Unaltered by time, nature's gemstones inspire the world's best-selling thread, Coats Dual Duty Plus ® At the core is its strength-high-tensile polyester which withstands tension, stress and the passage of time. The

outer wrap provides its beauty­ fine long-staple Pima cotton that is soft, lustrous and brilliant. The combination-a thread known universally for its extraordinary quality and range of color. It's no wonder that Coats

Dual Duty Plus®is the choice among those who create their projects to endure.

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South Stream Blvd Charlotte, NC Available in Canada from Coats Clark, Toronto, Ontario READER SERVICE NO. 151


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.- �12�-Count them Your eyes are not deceiving you.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8-threads!

But fear not. With the new Evolve, Baby lock

has simplified the seemingly complex while giving you almost unlimited creative capability. Narrow, wide and triple cover stitches ioin with

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a safety overlock chain stitch wait at your fingertips . Combine overlock and cover stitches in one operation to form Baby lock's "Expressive" 8-thread stitches never before possible on a household serger. 58 stitch options in one machine with the Automatic Thread Delivery System ™ and Jet-Air Threading TM.

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bobV IDEIi

Because simplicity is the essence of serging. READER SERVICE NO. 150

april/may 2 0 0 0


april/may 2000 number 88


fit & fabric 30

o 00 0 I II I

In Love with Lace


Whether sewing for the office or the altar, use these techniques for cutting, piecing, seaming, and shaping this fine fabric BY SUSAN KHALJE


Inkjet Printing on Fabric Use your computer to design and print your own washable fabrics

On the cover: Coordinate china


and table linens, wallpaper and curtains, or all of the above with your wardrobe! Details begin on Photo by Sloan Howard. p.


design 40

Oops! Not Enough Fabric? Keep a cool head and try these strategies to save the day BY SARAH VEBLEN


Convertible Garments



Increase your wardrobe and travel options with snaps, zippers, buttons, and imagination BY LINDA LEE

details 60

Embellish with Inset Fabric How to inset a piece of fabric of almost any shape into any other fabric for decorative effect BY DIANE ERICSON Head to p.


Digitizing Your Own Machine­ Embroidery Designs Whether for home accessories or garments, transform artwork into great-looking designs that sew out smoothly and efficiently BY LlNDEE GOODALL

W hat is this whimsical creation? Answer on p.



for inspired fabric

embellishment, which can also enliven closures, like those at r i ght.

For garments with multiple personalities, see p.

tec hniques 36


Copy Your Favorite Pants This quick technique requires no special tools, nor taking the pants apart BY BLOSSOM JENAB AND KATE RITTENHOUSE


Make Sense of Your Serger's Differential Feed This valuable feature controls bias and makes pucker-free seams, beautiful edges, and gathers

without fiddling with



Bag Your Jacket Lining This ready-to-wear method of inserting a lining gives the fastest and most professional-looking results BY SANDRA MILLETT

departmen ts

6 Letters

Left-handed scissors;

bog coats and history; home dec-yea or nay

12 Questions

Removing and replacing

snaps; respacing buttons

16 Tips

Flattering straight skirts;

hems for tapered pants

20 Basics

Making a duplicate


24 Fitting

Altering sleeves

72 Tools of the Trade

QuiltCut fabric-cutting

system; Bonfit's Elastic Wizard

76 Quick to Make

Embroidered felt trivets

80 Delicious Details Collars and closures

93 Index to

Advertisers 94 Closures

Sewing and Fashion at Sea

96 Back Cover

Silk-chiffon evening gown

You'll find guidelines for sewing lace, whether for the office or the altar, starting on p.


Letters We welcome your comments, criticisms, advice, and ideas. Letters may be edited for brevity and clarity. Please write to:

Threads Letters,

6 3 S. Main St., PO Box 5 506, Newtown,


06470-5506; or via e-mail:

More on left-handed scissors Like Jean K. Spero who wrote in to lament the lack of scissors for left-handed sewers (No. 87, p. 6), I'm left-handed and likewise won­ dered why manufacturers don't make applique scissors for lefties. Then made a serendipitous dis­ covery: The pair of right-handed applique scissors I own works just fine for me if I turn the scissors upside down! I use them primarily for grading seams and wouldn't be without them.


-Julie Sauvageot, Garner,


Reader Dee Atkinson from Cincinnati, Ohio, e-mailed us recently to let us know that Havel's, based in Cincinnati, carries some left-handed scissors. And, indeed, since my article "Scis­ sors Savvy" (No. 85, pp. 36-41), Havel's has introduced a complete line of left-handed specialty scis­ sors, including embroidery, ap­ plique, and lace-trimming scissors. For information, contact: Havel's Inc., 3726 Lonsdale St., Cincinnati, OH 45227,800-638-3458, (inter­ national) 5 1 3-271-21 17.

A Celebration of Creative Clothing

(AQS, 1991), features the bog coat and includes scrupulous historical and creative attributes. understand editorial constraints may alter arti­ cles, but Virginia Avery's body of work with this garment deserves more than the vague reference that "[the bog coat] has been used by art-to-wear artists to showcase em­ bellished or quilted garments .... " It's unlikely that Ms. Allen would have "discovered a casually elegant, wear-anywhere pattern. . . [that she can] sew together in literally under an hour" without Virginia Avery.


-Susan I. Jones, Portland, Ore.

Mary Ray comments:

Bog coats and history Susan B. Allen's article "The Bog Coat: One-Seam Sophistication" (No. 87, pp. 3640) did not men­ tion the "doyenne" of the bog coat, Virginia Avery. This award-winning fiber artist has taught making bog coats for at least two decades, both nationally and internationally. Her book, Won­ derful Wearables:



I've admired the work of Virginia Avery for years. Although her deSigns weren't my introduction to the 2,000 year­ old bog coat, I was delighted to later find and study her inspiring art-to-wear garments. I learned about the bog design from these books: A History of Costume by Carl Kohler (Harrap and Co., London, 1928), Making Simple Clothes by Ida Hamre (Adam and Charles Black, Publishers, London, 1980), Cuts of Cloth by Ann Sayre Wise­ man (Little Brown and Co., 1978), and Beyond the Bog Coat by Linda Halpin (RCW Publishing, 1993). Threads doesn't usually publish an author's bi.bliography with an article, but I feel strongly that the magnificent, ancient story of the bog coat is part of the thrill of making and it as a flattering modern garment. Without a doubt, Virginia Avery's books show some amazing ver­ sions of the bog coat, and I don't mean to slight her work in any way. At the same time, I pass along the credit for the ingenious Susan B. Allen replies:


Christine Timmons

Art Director

Catherine Cassidy

Senior Editor David Page Coffin

Associate Editor Laura White

Assistant Editor Judy Neukam, Mary Ray

Copy/Production Editor Rita Scanlan

Associate Art Director Karen Meyer

Editorial Secretary Nancy Nelle Farmer

Contributing Editors Susan B. Allen, Linda Lee, Karen Morris

Publisher John Lively

Associate Publisher Kathleen Davis

Circulation Manager Deborah Curry Johnston

Circulation Planner Christine Rosato

Assistant to the Publishers Nancy Crider

Advertising: National Account Manager Carol Gee

Account Manager Gail Slifkin

Advertising Secretary Marjorie Brown

Threads Threads

Acquisitions Editor, Jolynn Gower

Assistant Editor, Sarah Coe




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Letters (continued) design to the seamstresses from 500 B.C. (and I'll bet Virginia Avery does, too). Home dec-yea and nay Thank you for adding sewing for something other than human bod­ ies! Since moving into a new house a few years ago, most of my sewing has involved trying to cover the bare windows, on which I've used un­ usual fabrics and different kinds of treatments. It's been an interesting learning experience, and sometimes there are challenges you don't nor­ mally come across even after tack­ ling garments like a tailored suit. -Chris Haynes, Seattle, Wash.

I am a very loyal reader of Threads and look forward to every issue with great anticipation. I feel it is the "intellectual" sewers magazine. I am not happy, however, with the direction of home decor being pre­ sented, as in the current issue. There are magazines and books strictly about home decor, and I've always perceived Threads to be about advanced sewing tech­ niques. The article on Tom and Linda Platt (No. pp. 26-31) was wonderful, and I would like to see more features like that.


-Annette Young, Woodbridge, Va.



Editor Chris Timmons replies:

We plan to include one article per issue on sewing soft home furnishings, but this in no way alters Threads' long­ standing focus on garment sewing and embellishment. The balance of articles will continue, as before, to address high-quality, in-depth garment construction and embell­ ishment. From our ongoing reader research, we know the vast major­ ity of readers sew both garments and items for their home, and we see our home-dec coverage as both a response to our readers' dual interests and as a means of building skills for newer sewers, who we hope will soon be natur­ ally drawn into the more challeng­ ing realm of sewing and fitting garments. In fact, many techniques we will feature for soft furnishings will work equally well for gar­ ments. For example, in this issue,

in Lindee Goodall's article on "Digitizing Your Own Machine­ Embroidery Designs" (pp. 64-69), we embroidered the designs on table linens, but they could just as easily have been applied to gar­ ments. Stay tuned, and let us know what you think once you've seen a little more of what's planned. Boning just in time Susan Khalje's article "Boning-Not Just for Corsets" (No. pp. 56-59) came at exactly the right time to rescue a dress with a rounded neck­ line that dipped disastrously for­ ward. Unfortunately, my local sewing store does not carry the flexible metal boning mentioned in the article, and the plastic bon­ ing they did have seemed way too


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Video: Craig Umanofr.


"Phoenix Rising" design created by Kae Barron of Criswell Embroidery &Design, using Digitizer 2000

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Visit your Janome dealer for a demonstration or go to to download the Pheonix Rising file and view a product presentation. Phoenix Rising ©1999 Criswell Embroidery & Design

Letters (continued) On the road Threads will have

a booth and/or presentation at the following show and convention in April and May. If you attend,please stop by to say hello.

Original Sewing & Craft Expo Northern Kentucky Convention Center Covington, 800-699-6309 April 7-9


Professional Asso­ ciation of Custom Clothiers (PACC) Convention Regal Riverfront Hotel St. Louis, MO www.pacc

May 2-6

thick for my fabric,so I decided to improvise. A length of \!\-in. craft ribbon cut fractionally shorter than the front neckline curve and at­ tached to the faCing shoulder seams formed a sling that nudged the neckline into proper position. A loop of the same ribbon attached inside the neckline seam served as an "eyelet" to keep the ribbon in place without shifting during wear. Thank you for providing us with such practical information.

The quilt cover of No. 85 was breathtaking, and the work-in­ progress embroidery on No. 86's cover is great fun to look at. The real reason I'm writing,how­ ever, is to say how much I enjoyed Celeste Percy's article "Sew to the Next Level" (No. 86, pp. 42-45). This is just the kind of informa­ tion I've been looking for-it's just too short. Please ask her to write more, more, more. -Ellen Parker, South Windsor, Conn.

-Beth Davisson, Bakersfield, Calif.

Kaffe Fassett fol low-up With regard to the article "A Con­ versation with Kaffe Fassett" in No. 86 (pp. 58-61 ), I want to let readers know about Kaffe's Web site (, featuring his work, appearance schedule, new patterns and designs, and soon journals from his travels. For more information about Kaffe's work or schedule, contact me at info@ or by mail at Kaffe Fassett Studios, PO Box 459, Big Sur, CA 93920,831- 667-1530. -Tom Birmingham, Big Sur, Calif.

Delicious details I really liked your new department "Delicious Details," which debuted in No. 87 (pp. 76-78), and I look forward to seeing it in future is­ sues. Also special applause for the back covers,which feature beauti­ ful garment details. -Er ica Wittenberg, Littleton, Colo.

Chris Timmons replies: Don't worry­ we've already got Celeste working on several new feature articles for us,but we'd love to hear what you'd like her to write on.

Making sense of machine embroidery Lindee Goodall's article "Fabric and Design: A Machine-Embroi­ dered Marriage" (No. 86,pp. 36-41) was great-and thanks,too,[or the nice embroidery design available to download from your Web site ( I've heard Lindee give a similar talk,but I re­ ally appreciated having it all written down. I had Cactus Punch (her company) digitize a design for a program I run at work but had nev­ er gotten it to stitch out very well until I read this article. It's a very dense program, and I realize that I should have been using a cut-away stabilizer rather than a tear-away. I'm excited to try your design. -Janet Andersen, via e-mail

Sewing to the next level I've just finished devouring the fabulousJanuary 2000 issue (No. 86), and was really pleased to see that you've gotten away from (at least temporarily) just showing live models on the cover, issue after issue. 10


Scarf correspondence P.S. Shortly after Carine Fraley's article "Send Someone a Thank-You Scarf' appeared in No. 82 (pp. 7879), a friend of mine fell madly in love with a wonderful man who's a

biologist and spends many months at sea on research trips. After a two­ month separation, she planned to meet him in Hawaii and wanted to bring a gift for him to remember her by that was both inexpensive and memorable. I suggested a scarf "letter," and together we found a 45-in.-square remnant of deep rust chiffon, which I hemmed on my serger with a rolled hem stitched in gold thread. My friend then copied a poem she had written for her love on the scarf in gold pen (we found it easier to write on the fabric after ironing freezer paper on the back). She wore the scarf often during their week in Hawaii, and on the last day, quietly slid it under his pillow on the bunk where he would spend the next few months at sea. Isn't that romantic? This idea can do more than say, thank you! -Donna Wyatt, Westbank, B.C, Canada

Design Challenge Invitation In the upcoming June/July issue, you'll find the results of the 4th annual Threads Design Challenge. We previously invited readers to send in sketches of what they'd design in response to the challenge, which will go up on our Web site ( If you haven't already done so, it's time to get out your pens and pencils. On our Web site you'll find the fabrics the deSigners chose from and the guidelines they worked with. Send in your sketches by March 15.

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For more information contact a representative at 1-800-627-4776 http: // READER SERVICE NO. 85

april/may 2 0 0 0

1 1

Questions Do you have a question of general

Removing and replacing snaps

interest about

There must be a way to remove

sewing, quilting,

brohen, inferior, or badly matched

embellishing, or a

snaps and rivets from a garment.


I'd love to be able to replace them

craft? Send it to:

lihe buttOl1S.

Threads Questions,

63 S. Main St.,

-Suzanne Hole, Clifton Beach, Cairns,

FOUR BASIC SNAP PARTS Whether you 're working with prong snaps, as shown here, or post snaps, the basic parts and names remain the same.

Queensland, Australia

PO Box 5 506, Newtown, CT

Rosebud Badour-Jacobs replies: Your

06470-5 506

question is one that I hear over and over in my booth at sewing shows, where we sell a variety of snaps and tools. While not as simple as replacing a button, it is possible to remove and replace snaps, studs, and even rivets, if you work care­ fully. Although success isn't always a sure thing-some snaps are stub­ born, and fabrics can rip-practice will greatly improve your results. To gain experience, I suggest working on a cast-off item before tackling the snaps on a special garment. If you plan to remove snaps or rivets because of skin sensitivity to metal, there's another solution you can try first. Fuse a double layer of fusible-tricot interfacing, like Fusi-Knit by Handler, to the inside of the garment, encasing the metal. This method worked beautifully for my friend, who once had large raw spots wherever blue-jeans riv­ ets touched her skin. And now let's focus on the snaps you want to remove. Since snap components aren't interchangeable, you'll need to remove all four parts of the snap when repairing or changing snaps. And if you're replacing a broken snap, finding an exact match can be next to im­ possible, so be prepared to replace all of the garment's snaps. First, determine which type of snap you have: post or prong. The

or via e-mail (th@taunton .com) .



Cap (post or prong)



Lower post (or prong)

snap found most often on medium­ to heavy-weight garments is a post snap, which has a shaft, or post, re­ quiring a hole in the fabric for in­ sertion and, when removed, leaves a hole that needs to be repaired be­ fore you can insert a new snap (see the snap sets below the pliers on p.14). A variation of the post snap, the spring snap, is identified by two parallel bars on either side of the socket and a dome-shaped stud. You'll find the second type of snaps, prong snaps (shown above; also called gripper or jersey snaps), on light- to medium-weight items like infants' and children's cloth­ ing, cotton shirts, and knit fabrics. These snaps, when removed, leave teeth marks or holes in the fabric.

Each of these snap styles has four basic parts, as shown at left, a plain or decorative cap; a socket (called the "female" because of its center opening, installed under the cap); the stud (called the "male," fitting into the socket when snapped); and the lower post or prong. Each type of snap requires a dif­ ferent technique for removal. For post snaps, you'll need a drill with a drill bit slightly larger than the post's diameter. look at the post hole inside a socket or stud to es­ timate the size of the drill bit need­ ed. Working from the socket or stud side of the garment (from the inside), place the end of the drill bit into the opening of the post roll and begin to drill slowly through the post until the socket or stud begins to turn. Stop and check the snap; it should be easy to remove at this point. If not, you may need a larger drill bit. To remove a spring snap's stud, use wire cutters, like electrical pliers (shown in the top two photos be­ low) or diagonal wire cutters (shown in the bottom photo below), to cut the domed end of the stud. The stud and post will sepa­ rate easily. You have a choice of removal methods for prong snaps: Working slowly to avoid damaging the fabric, insert a thin screwdriver between the fabric and the socket or stud. Twist the screw­ driver to loosen the socket or stud from the prongs, continu­ ing the process around



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©1999 Children's Television Workshop. Sesame Street Muppets ©HENSON, Sesame Street and the Sesame Street sign are


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Amazing Designs � GREAT NOTIONS

sulky® Dennis the Menace ©1999 Hank Ketcham Enterprises. Amazing Designs


� GREAT NOTIONS april/may 2 0 0 0


Ques tions (continued)

For setting snaps,

try either the Prym Vario Plus Pliers (below) or the SnapSetter (at right).

the snap. Or you can use electrical pliers or wire cutters to rock and wiggle the pieces apart. But be very careful-sometimes the slightest squeeze of the pliers can send a prong cap flying. Wear safety glass­ es, work with the snap face down into a towel,and be aware of others in your immediate area. After removing the snaps,you're ready to prepare the garment for new snaps by repairing the holes created by the posts or prongs. For post snaps,place two I-in. squares of slightly heavier-than-usual wo­ ven interfacing between the fabric layers (use tweezers to work the interfacing into the small hole), then use a multiple-zigzag stitch and matching thread to darn over the hole, through all layers. Use the same process to repair the smaller holes created by prong snaps. Place interfacing between the

fabric layers, or fuse a double layer of woven, fusible interfac­ ing to the underside of the fabric, then darn the damaged area. You'll find some snaps at local stores, and many more by mail order, in a variety of sizes, met­ als, and decorative styles. If you're replacing snaps due to a poor color match, you'll see lots of colors available. It's also easy to dye your own post or prong snaps in just three minutes, using fabric dye in a saucepan on the stove. Birch Street Clothing (PO Box 1 1 10, Alta, CA 95701 ; 80014


736-0854; www.birchstreetclothing. com) sells these snaps and many

others, plus a versatile tool for setting snaps,the Prym Vario Plus Pliers, with interchangeable mount­ ing heads for different sizes and types of snaps (shown below left). The Snap Source (PO Box 99733, Troy, MI 480999733; 800725-4600; has prong snaps and the easy-to-use SnapSet­ ter tool (above) in several sizes. The Bee Lee Co. (PO Box 36108, Dallas, TX 75235-1 108; 800-527-5271 ; free catalog) sells great western-style and pearl snaps and tools. To replace post or prong snaps, use your favorite snap-setting tool (usually the one you purchased with your snaps), and follow the in­ cluded instructions. For post snaps, you'll first need to punch a small hole using an awl or another tool, then push the cap's post through the hole,add the socket piece, and crush the post as instructed. Repeat for the lower post and stud. In my opinion, mastering the art of snap replacement is an important skill for the serious sewer. It can not only help you solve problems,it increases your freedom to create and improve garments, whether purchased or sewn, as you wish. Bustline "gaposis"

Can you help me with respacing buttons? When shorten a pattern above the waist, I sometimes end up with gaping at the bustline.


-Dorothy Field, Chilliwack, B.C., Canada

on a garment that has been adjusted for length and at the same time prevent the dreaded "gapo­ sis." To determine correct place­ ment, try on the nearly completed garment. Then, on the over­ lap, place a pin hori­ zontally so it is with the fullest part of your bust. Remove the gar­ ment and mark the topmost but­ tonhole location as it is indicated on the pattern. For larger buttons and more widely spaced buttonholes, mea­ sure the distance between the first and second locations and space the rest accordingly. For smaller buttons and more closely spaced buttonholes, place another pin horizontally to mark the overlap at a point halfway between the uppermost button and the one at the bust, and use that distance to space the rest. While a button level to the bust apex helps prevent gaposis, make sure you also have adequate wear­ ing ease across the bust. Many of us wear our clothes too tight, which exaggerates the problem. Even on closely fitted garments, you need to be able to "pinch an inch" at the side seams under the arms for a minimum of 4 in. of ease to allow for movement and comfort. Rosebud Badour-Jacobs does custom

sewing in Grand Rapids, Mich., and trav­ els as a vendor for Birch Street Clothing, a company that specializes in snaps and snap-setting tools. Barbara Deckert of

Barbara Deckert replies: There's an

easy way to respace buttonholes

Elkridge, Md., is the author of

for Plus Sizes


(Taunton Press, 1999).


The incredible from features the most powerful suction perfor­ mance ever offered to the home sewer. The all metal (Made in Germany) motor offers suction force that is amazing to see in person, it virtually glues the fabric to the table. Also included is the reverse motor position which offers incredible blowing power so that shape can be put into difficult to press garments like coats and pants with lining. The blowing force (when selected) allows steam to be used exclusively on the surface of the garment/project being pressed. Alternatively, the suction (when selected) pulls the steam through the fabric.


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Ti P s Share a tip, a useful trick, or a great sewing or embel lishing resource. Send details, sketches, photos, or samples (if you like) to:

Threads Tips,

PO Box 5 506, Newtown, CT 06470-5506; or via e-mail: Be sure to include a phone n u mber in case we have a q uestion. We'll pay for each item we publish.

Fitting straight skirts on round tummies When I measure my hip 3 in. below my waist, it is about the same as 7 in. below my waist, which means that my tummy pro­ trudes forward as much as my hip measures around. If I sew a skirt b ased solely on these measure­ ments, it pulls tight around the abdomen and hip instead of drop­ ping straight down from the abdomen. I've found a way to get a flattering drop and keep the side seams straight. Hold a yardstick straight up and down in front of the most protruding part of the abdomen and take the 7-in. hip measurement around the yardstick (see the draw­ ings below). Alter your pattern to fit this measurement, adding fitting ease as you normally would. The resulting garment will fit and look better, plus skirt fronts will wrinkle less. -Ramona Fernenias, Arlington, Va.

No more warped quilts I make art quilts by piecing fabrics in irregular patterns, improvising without templates or rulers. I am also a longtime quilt teacher, and notice that, both in my own work and my students', piecing the quilt occasionally causes the top to "warp." This happens with tradi­ tional patterns, too. I learned to take care of distortion in the piecing as soon as I see it. Otherwise, if I add one more piece, row, or border to the piecing in progress, the problem multiplies. Here's a way to warping in most quilt tops at any stage of piecing: With the quilt top lying face down on a flat surface, smooth the fabric with your hands until you pinpoint where the excess fabric is most obvious. Pin a very narrow dart (6 to 12 in. long by no more than in. wide) that reduces the fullness. Don't be afraid to run the dart across seams or have the dart curve slightly. In most cases you


can coax the dart to a place where it doesn't interfere with the quilt'S design. Adjust the pins for the best effect, stitch, and press. If another "bubble" develops, add another dart. (Eight is the most I've seen on one quilt.) Trust me, tiny darts are virtually invisible in the midst of a quilt's many pieces and stitches, and are covered on the back by the backing fabric. -Sherri Wood, Durham, N.C.

Healing you r rotary mat I use a green rotary mat, suppos­ edly self-healing, almost every day to cut all sorts of fabrics. But when used it to cut fleece fabric, I was shocked to find big cuts in the mat with tiny fleece fibers stuck in the grooves that wouldn't brush off. When I tried to cut another fabric with the mat, fleece fibers stuck on this fabric. I thought my mat, not an inexpensive tool, was ruined. luckily, I discovered this process for "healing" a rotary mat:


FLATTERING STRAIGHT SKIRT To make a straight skirt that looks and feels good on a figure with a protruding tummy, try this simple pattern alteration. Taking standard measurements on this figure at points shown below produces skirt that's too tight, dips a t hip, and wrinkles across front. Measurement below waist Measurement below waist



3 in. 7 in.

For better fit and straight side seam, take hip measurement with tape around the yardstick, as shown. Hold yardstick straight in front of tummy.


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Apply clear packing tape o n the cuts in your mat with fibers stuck in them. Rub the tape well so it ad­ heres to the mat. Wait 20 minutes and peel the tape off. It pulls those fibers up and leaves your mat look­ ing like new. -Kris Presley, Moncks Corner, S.c.

Fabric ups and downs Have you ever studied a fabric for directional differences and found no obvious nap or weave, so you decide you can cut the pattern with pieces running in opposite directions? Then, alas, after finishing the garment, you discover subtle color or weave differences after all? To prevent this, drape the fabric



lengthwise around your neck,right side out. In a strong light, look down and thoroughly compare both sides. If there is the slightest difference in the two directions, draw an arrow in the selvage,indi­ cating the direction you prefer. Next, draw an arrow on each pattern piece,designating the direction for its placement. Pin the pattern pieces to the fabric so that all of the arrows run in the same direction. Pay special attention to the parts of collars and cuffs that turn back. -Evelyn Blacke, Roanoke, Va.

Grade A seams No matter how carefully I grade seam allowances,I still sometimes

see ridges on the right side of the garment. I've found these tricks often solve the problem: First,use pinking shears to grade the seams to obscure the edges, espeCially on curved seams. Sec­ ond, for a collar or cuff, leave the seam allowance wider on the outer garment section. Third, for ex­ tremely bulky fabrics,place a sheet of brown craft paper between the seam allowance and the wrong side of the fabric, and press from the wrong side. Finally, center the seam itself on a seam roll to press the seam open, so the iron presses only the actual seam and not the outer edges of the seam allowance. -Darleen A. Clements, Seattle, Wash.

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1 1722·9263

B asics We've set aside this space to explain sewing techniques and terms that may not be familiar to everyone. I f you've ever been stumped by an instruction to "clean-finish the edge" or "find the true bias," this column should be a handy reference.

MAKING A D U P L I C AT E PATT E R N by Celeste Percy I'm an avid pattern collector and like to keep my patterns intact. So when I make a lot of fitting or design changes to a pattern, or when I use a multi-sized pattern, I make a duplicate that I don't mind cutting into. This enables me to save the original to refer to or to reuse in another size. Tracing a pattern can be done quickly and accurately with a few simple steps and some basic tools. It is important to note, however, that patterns have copy­ rights. When you make a dupli­ cate, remember that it should not be used for anything other than your personal sewing.

Tracing tips Before addressing tools, let's look at the tracing process. It may seem apparent, but the follOwing gUide­ lines will make tracing a pattern easy and accurate: Start by taping the original pattern tissue to a table so it won't shift. Then place the tracing paper over the pattern and use tape or weights to hold it in place. U sing a long ruler, trace the marked grainline, extending it the length of the pattern piece if pos­ sible; the extended grainline makes it easier to align the pattern and fabric. Then use the ruler to trace all the straight vertical and hori­ zontal lines on the pattern (see the photo below). To make tracing curves easier, use a shorter ruler as a gUide (or do it freehand) and draw a series of dashes, about in. to in. apart,



For fast, accurate tracing, use a ruler as a guide to trace grainlines and straight seam lines.

the grainlines to make it easier to align the pattern and fabric when cutting. 20



along the curves (see the top pho­ to on p. 22). Finally, trace the darts and any other internal markings, and write on each pattern section the pattern number, size, number of fabric pieces to cut, and amounts to allow for seams and hems. Paper, pencils, rulers, and tracing wheels In addition to many types of tracing paper available from art-supply and stationery stores, there are papers speCifically deSigned for tracing patterns (see "Tracing tools by mail" on p. 22). A versatile, all­ purpose white paper called Pattern Paper is similar to the paper used on medical examining tables and is easy and inexpensive to use. For a more transparent paper that can be useful when cutting out fabrics that need to be matched, try Do Sew Tracing Paper or Burda's Trac­ ing Set, which is a plastic-like paper that comes with a marking pen. Grid paper can be useful for aligning a pattern's straight edges and squared corners, and for making pattern alterations. Pellon Tru-Grid is a drapable, nonwoven, interfaCing-like paper that can be sewn and used to make a fitting shell as well. This type of paper also clings to the fabric, making it easier to cut out fabrics that are slippery or have a lofty pile like Polar Fleece, which seems to resist pattern tissue. Burda also makes a gridded tissue paper. I use a ruler to help trace long, straight seamlines and grainlines and prefer a flexible, transparent 3-in. by 18-in. ruler. When tracing curves, I prefer to use a shorter I-in. by 6-in. ruler. A simple mechanical pencil or a ballpOint pen are the best drawing


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B a s i ( S (continued) want to make a whole pattern piece instead of the half pieces that are to be cut on the fabric's fold. To accomplish this, just trace the pattern section onto a folded piece of paper, cut, and open it out (see the photo below).

Tracing tools by mail Clotilde

B3000 Louisiana, MO 6 3 3 6 3 800-772-2891 www.c/

Do Sew Tracing Paper, Omnigrid rulers, Pattern Paper, Roll-a-Pattern Joanne's Creative Notions Plus

PO Box 44030 Brampton, ON, L6V 4H5 Canada 800-81 1 -661 1 www.joannescreative

Omnigrid rulers, Pattern Paper, pinpoint tracing wheel, Roll-a-Pattern Nancy's Notions

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Omnigrid rulers, Pattern Paper, Pelion Tru-Grid, pinpoint tracing wheel, Roll-a-Pattern Simplicity Pattern Company

Consumer Relations Dept. 901 Wayne St. Niles, MI 49121 888-588-2700 Grid tissue paper, Burda's Tracing Set

Curves can be traced with a series of dashes,

short ruler as a gUide. tools because the lines will not vary in width. There is also a rolling felt marker on the market called Roll-a-Pattern, which works quite well and makes tracing especially fast. .You can use felt-tip markers, but be careful that they don't bleed or make too broad a line. You may also want to try marking with a sharp pinpoint tracing wheel. Use this for tracing onto heavier paper like oaktag (similar to a file folder). Place the paper un­ der the pattern and trace along the lines (be sure to protect your table). The needlelike points will mark the outline of the pattern piece, and you can highlight the lines later with pencil or pen. M u ltiple pattern pieces \Vhen the same pattern piece needs to be cut more than once from the fabric, I make multiple copies of it. This makes laying out the pat­ tern so much easier, especially when the pattern layout is for a Single layer of fabric. To make a pair of copies, layer



either freehand or using a

two pieces of tracing paper together before you trace, and you can cut them both at the same time. When you are adding reference marks, darts, and so on, always be sure to indicate right and left sections on the appropriate sides of the copies. There are times when you may

�- -\i-- -T.\-\ "\-\'\ \

What about photocopying? This is a very fast way to produce a copy, but be careful because pho­ tocopying usually creates some distortion. For this reason, be sure to check each copy against the original before using it. And since the main reason for photocopying is speed, I suggest using this process only for pattern pieces that will fit onto one sheet of paper (letter or legal size). Tracing a pattern takes a few ex­ tra minutes, but think you'll find that a duplicate pattern is a very useful tool.


Prolific sewer Celeste Percy teaches in Eugene, Ore.,

. on and

ww .artcsewing com. w

the Web


" " " ,­

'- -- ---

trace a half-pattern to a folded piece of paper by placing the pattern's foldline on the paper's fold.

To create a whole pattern piece,

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F itting Here's the place to get some answers to your fitting


q uestions. If you have a better

I've altered my armhole, but now I don't know how to alter my sleeves. Help!

solution than the one we've given here, please write

-Lily Lauterbach, Warrenton, Va.

and tell us. Send your questions (include photos, if possi ble), comments, and solutions to:

Threads Fitting,

PO Box 5 506, Newtown, CT 06470-5 506 or via e-mail ( )


The most important thing to remember when altering sleeves, says fitting expert Karen Howland, is that the cap fits the armhole, and the sleeve fits the arm. In other words, make sure you don't let out or take in the underarm seams when you alter the cap if the sleeve already fits your arm. In general,I usually wait to cut out my sleeves until I'm sure of the fit of the gar­ ment. I reserve an adequate area of the fabric and wait until I can measure the final armhole, so I know how much I'll need to alter the sleeve cap,if any. Measure both

armhole and sleeve-cap lengths before you alter anything, so you can be sure to preserve the design ease already drafted into your pat­ tern. Of course, different fabrics allow differing amounts of ease, so you may need to add to or reduce the given amount if you're using a fabric very different from that recommended on the pattern back. Once the armhole is altered,mea­ sure it again. I use a flexible ruler, or curve-available from art-supply stores-to measure curves,as shown in the drawing at left below, be­ cause it makes transferring curved lengths easy, and helps when re­ shaping and drawing new sleeve­ cap curves smoothly and precisely. For the armhole,I mark the ends of the curve, the shoulder-seam dot, and sometimes the notches with little rubber bands that I keep per­ manently rolled onto the curve for just this purpose. After shaping the

curve to match the seam line, and positioning the bands, you can straighten it out to measure the distances in inches (most flexible rulers don't include inch mark­ ings). You can then measure the sleeve cap with the curve in the same way. Below, the drawing at right shows how to lay out a two­ piece sleeve by tracing the under­ sleeve twice so that its cap can be eaSily measured and altered just like a one-piece sleeve cap. To alter the cap, simply compare the armhole length before and after alteration, and then add or remove length from the cap by the same amount and in the same general area, preserving the ease difference between the two. A tip: If you've got any excess pattern tissue from the front and/or back armhole pat­ tern pieces that you've slashed-and­ spread or tucked, to alter them, trim off a small piece (keeping the


USE A FLEXI BLE RULER TO M EASURE CURVES A flexible ruler with a few small rubber bands slipped over it makes a very useful measuring and drawing aid when working with curves on patterns.

To measure an armhole cu rve with markings

To measure a two-piece sleeve cap

Slip as many bands on ruler as there are marks you need to transfer, plus two for end points, then shape curve to match pattern edge and roll bands to match markings and end points.

Measure a one-piece sleeve cap in same way as armhole. To arrange a two-piece sleeve for measuring, trace cap seam from undersleeve in position against both front and back seams on outer sleeve. Measure and alter curve from underarm mark (add if necessary) on front tracing to same mark on back tracing.

Rubber bands

/1"I I II / "1 / .. I II II X I I II !\I II/ :I II I1I I\\ II\ II III III III \ \ \ \ 1I II II II \ \ I\1\� II ,'--- - _-1'1_ _ _ _ I '__ _ _ _ _ Outer sleeve

Underarm marks

Under sleeve

Under sleeve copy



Undersleeve-cap outlines




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F it ting (continued) USE CHANGES FRO M AR M HOLE FOR SLEEVE Tip: Ifpossible, snip a section of tucked or spread pattern tissue from front and/or back armhole alterations, and use instead of tape to measure amount of change required at sleeve cap. Blend change on either front or back cap seam with change on opposite side of cap, or taper to nothing. Cap, back

1-- "I'," "1 ��1 11 1\\" L_ 11 11 11 1l ____________ Altered armhole, back

Cap, front

\ ,' ....._1., r11-/ 11 11 1 11 1 1 11 1 1 \_-----______1


Altered armhole, " front


RESHAP E CAP I F SHOUL D ER P O I NT IS M V E D Amount of change


Form cap outline with flexible curve and mark shoulder-seam point with a rubber band. Shift shoulder point forward or back by same amount as bodice alteration by reshaping top of cap curve.

Ifyou take in side seam on ready-to­ wear, shift lower portion of armhole to match, instead of trimming underarm seams on sleeve; blend armhole-seam change to nothing at mid-armhole.


11 1 1 11 1 1 11 1 1 11 1 1 ____________

spread or tuck intact), and use this instead of measuring tape to help you see how much and where to alter the cap,as shown in the draw­ ings at the top of this page. If the changes were just to the front or back armhole, cut or fold across the cap horizontally at the level of the alteration to the seamline on 26

11-..............-111 - //1 \\

Tissue sections


Shifted seamline

1I1 / If" 1\ \\ 1 \

Bodice front

the opposite side of the cap and taper the change to nothing at that point. If front and back were both altered, but by different amounts, cut or tuck completely through the cap, making an uneven spread or tuck that accommodates the two needed changes by blending between them. After any cap-length

change, always check the cap width horizontally between the notches against the original sleeve pattern (or your sleeve sloper) and reshape the cap if necessary to preserve it. If this flattens the cap a bit, that's OK; it's probably just what's needed. If your armhole alteration included repositioning the shoulder seam because of forward thrusting shoul­ ders, the sleeve cap needs to move forward, too. Do this after correct­ ing the length. The bottom drawing at far left shows how to use the flexible curve to easily reshape the cap without changing its length. When altering side seams in ready-to-wear so that the armhole is affected, many fitting instructions and alterationists subtract (or add) the same amount to the sleeve underarms as a way of matching the sleeve cap to the new armhole. This, of course,is just the inverse of what I warned against at the start of this column; that is, altering the fit of the sleeve when all that's changed is the armhole. Here's a better approach: If you need to take in the garment at the sides, release the sleeve around just the lower half of the armhole. Alter the side seam,but reposition the lower por­ tion of the armhole as well, pre­ serving the armhole length as much as possible, as shown at left. If you need to let out the body, there's probably not enough seam allowance in the armhole to let you reposition the armhole seamline, too,so let out the underarm seam as well,but just at the top 3 or 4 in. of the seam. In either case, the sleeve should fit back into the altered armhole without a whimper. Karen Howland writes and teaches in Chilicothie, III.


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In Love with Lace

Whether sewing for the office or the altar, use these techniques for cutting, piecing, seaming, and shaping this fine fabric by Susan Khalje

he first time I sewed with fine lace, I was completely stymied. I spread a piece of it on my worktable and just stared at it, probably hoping it would magically come to life, cutting, shaping, and stitching itself into a garment. I didn't realize it then, but I had stumbled on the first step to suc­ cessfully working with lace: care­ fully studying the piece of lace be sewed. By doing so, the individual motifs, their relationship to the background netting, and the pat­ terns they create are gradually re­ vealed and suggest ways to orga­ nize them on a garment. Such visualization jump-starts the tech­ nical process of construction. I would like to show you how to rec­ ognize and design with different types of lace, as well as how to cut and shape lace into beautiful, in­ triguing garments.


Types of lace Although there are many varieties of lace, three types are often used in dressmaking-Alen<;on, Chantilly,

and Guipure (see the background photos on the facing page)-and each behaves differently when sewn. Alen<;on (pronounced ah-lon­ sawn) lace is made by working mo­ tifs (usually floral) on a net back­ ground that are then outlined with a silken cord, thus classifying it as a "re-embroidered" lace. The cord­ ing adds strength and stability, so this lace can be cut, pieced, darted, seamed, and otherwise manipu­ lated. As well, it always has beauti­ ful scalloped borders and is often manufactured in "sets," which have the same pattern motif produced in a number of widths. A narrow strip of Alen<;on lace, referred to as a galloon, consists of abutting scal­ loped borders, which are almost always cut apart and used as trims. Chantilly lace is the lightest and most flexible of the fine laces, and is made the same way as Alen<;on, minus the cording. It's light enough to be gathered or used in tandem with other fabrics without adding bulk. However, its fragility makes Chantilly lace unsuitable for much seaming and shaping. It has

Fine lace comes in infinite variety, but three types, shown on the facing

clockwise from upper left, Guipure, Chantilly, embellished Chantilly, and Alenc;on. page, are good starters for sewing garments:

beautiful scalloped borders, but, because of their delicacy, these are best left unseparated from the rest of the lace. Sometimes Chantilly lace is ornamented with sequins, pearls, or beads (see the bottom right photo on the facing page), and then it can stand a certain amount of cutting and piecing. Guipure (pronounced ghee-pyure) lace is formed with rows of inde­ pendent, complex, lustrous motifs, which are connected by thread bars instead of being worked on a net background. This lace is thick and heavy, and usually needs to be sup­ ported by an underlying fabric (more on that in a moment). As long as the motifs are separated by cutting through the thread bars, the motifs will fray very little, mak­ ing this lace easy to manipulate in­ to various shapes. Even though it doesn't come in sets the way Alen<;on lace does, Guipure's row structure makes creating borders easy. It's rarely embellished, since it has lots of visual interest in itself, but adding subtle ornamentation, for example, a pearl in the center of every rose, can be lovely. Let the lace suggest design My two favorite ways to use lace in a garment are, first, to use it simply

Think of lace as a go-anywhere fabric.

With a change of accessories and buttons, the top on the facing page ( N eue Mode J22464) heads to work, a party (above), or a wedding (p.


april / may 2 0 0 0


as an overall fabric, either by itself, supported by underlining, or shaped and tacked to a completed undergarment, and second, to sep­ arate individual motifs from the net b acking and applique them attractively to another fashion

SEA M S A N D HAN D ST I TCHES FOR LAC E Use a French seam for lightweight Chantilly without underlining and a plain seam for underlined Chantilly and other heavier­ weight laces. For invisible seam details, see the photos on p. 35. French seam

Stitch seam with WSs together; trim to in.


Turn RSs together, stitch in. from edge



ment, but a fabric backing could support it. Also, when Chantilly lace is embellished, the fabric's hand and drape may change dramatically. Ask yourself what stress the gar­ ment style will put on your lace. A tight armscye, for instance, might strain a weak fabric, as would areas of abrasion, such as at the under­ arm or at a closure. Plan the gar­ ment's design without lace in these places, or simply be aware of stress points and treat them gently. Study the lace carefully before using it. This relaxing activity will reveal subtleties in the lace that you probably didn't see when you were first attracted to it. Patterns in the net background or in the motifs might invite embellishment, or a quiet aspect of the design could be echoed elsewhere in the garment. Use just a little lace, or a lot. Few other fabrics can be used in small amounts with as much im­ pact. And, of course, using yards and yards of lace can be beautiful with an underlying fabric for sup­ port or modesty. Imagine the lace on a garment. look at the motifs and envision them along the bottom of a sleeve, then echoed along the base of the bodice. Or visualize scalloped borders running up the center back, beautifully aligned. Or the lace may suggest an allover bodice covering. In short, use your lace as a painter uses color-some here, more there­ to create balance and harmony. Think about the wearer. The scale of a lace's motifs and how far apart they're placed will have a sig­ nificant visual effect on the body. For example, a petite figure would be overwhelmed with large, dis­ tantly placed, heavily ornamented motifs, while the delicacy of a fine­ ly scaled pattern might be lost on a tall or large figure. And be sure to avoid placing prominent motifs in

Plain seam

Fell stitch for lace applique

To applique lace motifs to another fabric. a hand fell stitch is sturdy and nearly invisible. WS


Catchstitch lace to underlining

fabric. In the same vein, overlaid border sections of a lace are a strik­ ing addition to a garment. To figure out which approach to use with a chosen lace, consider these points: Assess the lace's strengths and weaknesses. A lightweight, deli­ cate Chantilly lace used on its own, is too delicate for a structured gar-



sensitive areas,for example, on the bust apex. I like to take along a set of full pattern pieces I've made­ lace is almost always cut in a single layer to control placement of mo­ tifs-when purchasing lace, so I can determine then and there where the motifs will fall on the pattern and how much lace to buy. Don't be afraid to cut out motifs for applique. Many laces have dis­ tinct motifs that can be cut away from the net backing and ap­ pliqued onto a garment's fashion fabric. The advantage to this ap­ proach is having absolute control over the placement of the motifs. The elimination of the net back­ ground can relieve a look that's too lacy, and a heavy lace can be made to appear lighter by isolating only a few motifs and plaCing them pre­ cisely where wanted. Sometimes there are areas with a lot of net and no detail. Simply ap­ plique a motif patch to make the area look right. Alenc;,:on's scalloped borders are built-in design elements. These can be cut from the body of the lace and reattached anywhere they look attractive. Along hemlines, borders make a striking edge finish. Overlaid on other areas of the lace, borders can blend in nicely. When using fragile lace, stabilize it with an underlayer of fabric. The supporting fabric bears the structural responsibility, while the lace acts as surface design. When you want the lace to appear fluid, transparent, and unstructured, as if it were used solo, silk organza of­ fers behind-the-scenes help. Or­ ganza is easy to find, lightweight, and strong, and if cut on the bias, it will mimic the natural give of lace. Also try combining colors to get different effects. For example, black lace looks completely differ­ ent laid over flesh-colored versus black organza. An ecru lace over

flesh-toned organza appears re­ vealing, while the same lace over white organza creates a more modest, milky appearance. Preparing to sew When using lace with an under­ lining, join the two layers at the seam allowances, then treat them as one layer. But first, to keep the two layers distortion-free, suspend them together along a common edge, and let them hang naturally. Then, pin and hand-baste the edges of the garment sections on the seamlines. The best marking method to L\se with lace is thread-tracing, which doesn't mar the lace and can be easily removed. Because of its open spaces, lace is flexible and stretchy, and often, shallow darts and gentle shaping seams can be completely eliminated. However, when darts are called for, thread-trace them (see the top photo on p. 34) and all stitching lines [rom the pattern,us­ ing a pale thread on light-colored lace in case the thread's dye trans­ fers to the lace. Seaming and darting lace When stitching lace by machine, use long-staple polyester thread with a universal needle in a size compatible with the lace's weight, and a standard presser foot for sewing seams. Sew slowly to avoid stretching the lace. The seaming and shaping tech­ niques use with lace are suitable for all garment styles, whether fit­ ted, semifitted, boxy,or flared. The three methods of seaming that use most often are a standard ma­ chine-sewn seam, a French seam, and an invisible seam. The stan­ dard seam works well with all three laces, especially with the seam al­ lowances bound nicely. The French seam (see the top drawings on the [acing page) works best



plus a purchased beaded ribbon used as a belt, upgrades the top shown on pp. to bridal elegance. Lace often has beautifully scalloped edges, as shown in the backgrounds of these two pages, which can be cut from the main body of the lace and layered elsewhere, for example, the front edge of a dress or shaped pockets on a simple lace jacket. scalloped lace borders,


Mark stitching lines on lace by thread-tracing them

If you 're shaping lace onto an already constructed undergarment, use the stitched seams as guidelines for thread-tracing. Side seams need to be marked from the pattern. from the pattern.

Scalloped borders can be shaped to form any curve.

Cut the lace carefully to the point of the scallop, then either spread or overlap the sections.



on sheer Chantilly used without underlining, and while visible, it won't detract from the lace's beauty. The invisible seam is appropriate for Alenc;:on and Guipure laces with bold, distinct motifs, and I use it often for shaping over another layer of fabric. With an underlining,even a light lace may create too much bulk for French seams. I like to sew ordi­ nary seams on underlined lace and finish the seam allowances with a bias-cut organza binding. If the lace is a dark color, I use flesh-colored organza to make seam allowances magically disappear. Hand-overcasting,catchstitching, or machine zigzagging the seam allowance edges are also nice fin­ ishes (see the draWings on p. 32). But don't use a lot of thread for these finishes, since it will add bulk. Sewing invisible seams in lace that later will be tacked to a sup­ porting underlayer is easier than you'd think. Don't sew a straight seam as such, but rather choose a "leading edge" to overlap the other unobtrusively, then sew along the edge as a lapped seam, with the underlayer of lace trimmed away. Use hand-fell stitch or narrow ma­ chine zigzag with matching thread to secure and hide the seam, cre­ ating the illusion of seamless lace (see the photos on the facing page for step-by-step instructions on how to make invisible seams). Before stitching the lace garment sections together at side seams, tack the lace to the underlayer with a loose backstitch or basting stitch, not closer than 1 in. to the seams. The trick here is to do enough tacking to keep the lace from sagging or puckering but not to overdo it. If the tacking stitches are too many or too tight, the garment can become significantly

smaller! Be sure to re-fit the garment after the tacking is complete. Sewing invisible darts in Alenc;:on or Guipure lace follows the same procedure as for invisible overlap­ ping seams. You'll just need to thread-trace the dart legs on the lace to take out the correct amount for fitting. Troubleshooting For edge finishing, faCings are often out of the question. So use a nar­ row strip of bias-cut charmeuse to bind the edge instead. Be to first staystitch along the seamline, and remove any ornamentation from the lace in the seam al­ lowance. You may have to use a zipper foot to attach the binding if there's bulky ornamentation or heavy cording on the lace. After machine-stitching, fold the bind­ ing into place and finish it by hand with a slip stitch or fell stitch (see the lower right draWing on p. 32). If the slippery nature of lace hin­ ders accurate stitching, try a dose of spray starch, letting it soak into the lace for a few minutes before pressing. Speaking of pressing, here's the good news: Lace doesn't wrinkle. Sometimes, though, the net can become rumply, and press­ ing it can flatten it somewhat. To "revive" rumpled lace, lightly press it face down on a thick towel,with­ out using a lot of pressure. Since lace is made from various combi­ nations of fibers, be sure to test­ press a scrap to find the most ef­ fective iron temperature, and always use a press cloth. Lace often responds well to steam, too, but check for shrinkage on a sample.


Applique and borders Alenc;:on lace is a terrific candidate for applique, since its cording makes a natural stabilizing outline

for stitching the motif. When trim­ ming the motifs from the net, use a sharp pair of embroidery scissors and leave in. of net around each motif. I suggest sewing the ap­ pliques to the fabric by hand, using plenty of pins and a fell stitch. Al­ though it's possible to machine­ stitch the applique with a narrow zigzag over the Alenc;:on's cording, it can be hard on the lace if you decide to remove it. (If you choose to machine-stitch the applique, use a clear embroidery foot so you can see where you're going.) Scalloped lace borders are beau­ tiful, and can be applied like ap­ pliques. Curving a lace border is a simple task. The deeper you cut into the lace, the more extreme a curve it can accommodate (see the bottom photos on the facing page). Avoid cutting cords, though; tuck any loose ends out of sight and secure them with a stitch or two. Gentle curves can often be steam­ shaped face down on a towel with heat and pressure. Line the apexes of the scallops with the fabric's edge when at­ taching to a hem. A single row of stitching along the border's top edge is all you'll need. But if the border's scallops face up, as on a neckline, secure the border along both edges. It's easy to fall in love with lace, and fun to collect unusual pieces in antique stores and flea markets. Rescue the good parts of a torn or worn lace, and give it a new life in a contemporary garment. Lace is no ordinary fabric, and I bet it will capture your imagination (and your heart) the way it has mine.


Invisible seams are stunning on a lace garment. Leave a generous seam allowance of lace in the side seams of both pieces to be seamed, so you can choose and trim the best overlapping "leading edge" (below left). Overlap the leading edge along the seamline (below right), stitch the leading edge with

a narrow zigzag stitch (above left), using matching thread-black thread was used here for clarity's sake. On the wrong side, carefully trim the excess underlap close to the stitching (above right).

Susan Khalj e lavishes lace on couture garments in Glen Arm, Md., and is the author of Bridal Couture (Krause Publications, 1 997).

april/may 2 0 0 0


Copy Your Favorite Pants ver find yourself wishing you could make a copy or two of a garment that you are wearing out with af­ fection? Making a pattern from an existing garment is an everyday job in the fashion in­ dustry. Let's take a step-by-step look at how sewing pros handle this very straightforward process, using pants as our example, since a fa­ vorite pair of pants is a ready-to­ wear garment you'd very likely want to copy. Working with pants will also let us show you how to handle darts and similar details. Once you see how a pattern is made from pants, you're sure to feel able to take on many other similarly

basic garments. We'll follow up in a few issues with a more elaborate copying challenge, in case you be­ come inspired to really plunder the closets of the world for patterns. Start with a padded su rface, . . . Your work space and your copying paper should be big enough so you can lay out your pants' full length and width, with all edges within easy reach. Pad the surface with a few large, thick towels or folded blankets to a depth of about in. There's no need to secure the padding the surface. You can even use a carpeted floor or a mattress, as long as you can securely pin a



sheet of paper to your padding. Any sufficiently large paper will do, and you can tape together a few sheets, if necessary, to get a big enough piece. Pin or tape the edges of your paper to the padding. . .. then prepare the garment Your pants should be wrinkle-free, but they don't need to be perfectly pressed. Thread- or pin-mark the straight grain on one leg's back and front pieces. If you can't find the grain by eye, or by pulling a thread slightly in a seam allowance or other hidden area, you can safely assume that the grain runs straight up and down the length of the legs, as it should on your copy.

A tape measure, a padded surface, and a big sheet of paper

Pin the garment flat to itself, placing each seam as close to a

Folded blankets, towels, or even a carpeted floor will work fine for the padding.

folded edge as possible.

are just about all you need to copy a garment.



garment piece is helpful.

Thread-tracing the grainline of each major

This quick technique requires no special tools, nor taking the pants apart b y Blossom Jenab a n d Kate Rittenhouse

:=uc0 l"C 0.B�� 20..

Pin the front to the back so that the entire inseam is right at one folded edge (right photo on facing page). If possible, flatten the leg out so that the outseam also falls at the opposite edge. With most pants, the wider back piece won't allow this, but you will be able to arrange the front piece so you can see its complete outline. If you're using gridded paper, position the grainline on the pinned pants parallel to a grid line, or you can position the grain parallel to the edge of the paper (right photo on faCing page). With the front side up, now pin the pants to the paper in a few places to keep them from shifting as you copy them.

Trace what you can, ... Now you're ready to start taking advantage of the padding. Along the inseam, where the seam is on the fold, trace the seam by poking a pencil through the paper exactly along the edge (left photo below). On the outseam (center photo below), where the seam is not along an edge, trace it with a heavy, not too sharp needle-an embroidery needle is perfect-by poking the garment layers to the paper below. In each case, you're making a row of dots that you'll later connect and true into a pattern with drawn lines, after the garment is removed. Make sure your pencil or needle is held vertically, not at an angle, and

Trace the outline of each garment piece with a row of perforations

Where a seam is on an edge (left photo), use a pencil to make perforations. When the seam is away from an edge, push a needle straight through it and any layers below into the paper in the paper beneath it.

that you make a clear perforation through the paper each time. In this way, move around the entire garment piece, tracing next to or through each seamline you can see, including side seams, hems, neckline, waistline, grainline, and needle-marking the placement and length of the center front (right photo below), center back, and any darts or pleats. ... and measure the rest Where a dart or pleat or other detail changes the length of the seam it crosses, tracing won't work; you'll need to measure the amount of change. The top photos on pp. 3839 show how we calculated the

and padding below (center). It doesn't matter how many layers are underneath. nor how distorted they are, as long as the piece is lying flat. Keep the grain of the top piece as straight as possible as you trace each edge. especially where a dart or pleat throws the grain off (right).

april/may 2 0 0 0







Copying pleats

Smooth out a pleated area near the pleats and measure the unpleated width ( 1 ); needle-mark. then check your mark (2). Measure each portion of the pleated seam including the depth of each pleat (4). then add


width of the front waistline and the depth of the pleats there with direct measurements, afterward folding the paper exactly as the pants were folded to confirm the finished measurements. Once you've traced the front out­ line, flip the pants and trace the back-leg inseams and outseams as

you did the front seams. Because the outseam isn't on the edge, and is hidden when you flip the pants, measure the distance of the seam from the fold and add this to the lightly traced position of the fold, as shown in the photos below. Next, use a combination of needle tracings, measurements,

and folding similar to the dart solution in front in order to establish the position and lengths of the dart and back pocket, as shown in the three photos at the bottom of this page. Cuffed hems should be treated in just the same way: measure, mark, then fold the paper to check.

When seams are hidden, trace the outline of the nearest fold, then measure the distance of seam to

(left photo). adding this distance to the outline (right photo). fold

To copy darts and welt pockets, needle-trace their lengths and positions (right and center). Measure the dart width through the fabric. then fold the paper to match. Match the pocket across the folded dart end (far right).







/ (5).

these measurements to plot out the total unpleated seam length Finally, measure the pleated length (6), then fold the paper below to match in order to check the measurement (7).

Go back for details, then pin the parts together Details that don't affect the outline much, such as the front pockets in this case, can be left until the major pieces are traced, and can be fig­ ured out on separate pieces of paper. Feel through the various layers and trace the components (photos be-

since they're sure to see a lot more of each other in the future!

low). The final step is always to check your results, and ultimately, the entire pattern, by folding and otherwise assembling the paper ver­ sions of the garment pieces, cut­ ting out the pattern pieces, if nec­ essary, to bring all matching seams face to face (bottom photos below). It needs to be a happy meeting,

BlossomJenab teaches couture sewing, pattern making, and tailoring in Vancouver, B . C. , Canada; her Web site is Kate Rittenhouse, a Jilm and theater cos­ tumer, is one oj her many students.

Trace details that don't affect the fit on separate pieces of paper. By feeling through the layers, you can usually trace hidden layers, like the extent of a pocket facing (far left) or the shape of the pocketing (left). Finally, cut out the pattern pieces and pin

as they'll be sewn to check adjacent seams (far left) and construc­ tion details (left). them together


april/may 2 0 0 0


Oop s! Not Enough Fabric?

Keep a cool head and try these strategies to save the day by Sarah Veblen

Juggling fabric can turn less into more:

The jacket's cuffs, undercollar, inside front facing, and back belt use a second fabric. And the check fabric hides invisible piecing at the underarm and lapel Uacket, author's original design).

always get a sinking feeling in my stomach when I discover I don't have enough fabric for a planned project, but then I re­ member that some of the most interesting garments I've made exist because of this problem. I sew for a living, so an unplanned short­ age of a customer's fabric could spell disaster. I've learned to quell the panic and face the dilemma head-on. Over the years I've backed myself into this corner more often than a sensible person ought to have, and I've accumulated a bank of coping strategies for unexpected fabric shortages that I want to share with you. Use them as they are, or let them trigger your own solutions. Take a deep breath Because coming up short of fabric is a problem, I take a problem-

solving approach to dealing with it. First, I determine exactly how short of fabric I am. If I'm only a little bit off, I look for a solution that uses only the existing piece of fabric or, if an additional fabric is used, it remains hidden. For example, facings that won't be seen can be pieced from the same fabric, or cut from another of similar weight. If I find myself way too short for the single-fabric approach, I start designing a second fabric into the garment. My aim is to have the presence of a second fabric look intentional, as if I'd planned it that way all along. I ask myself: How heavy is the first fabric? How does it drape? Is it overly textured? Is the color bright or subdued? What makes it perfect for this garment? The answers help me decide if I want to incorporate a second fabric with similar or contrasting characteristics.


Just little bit short? When I find I'm not short of fabric by much, three strategies jump to mind: using a cross-grain layout, finding places on the garment to conceal pieced add-ons of fabric, or, conversely, intentionally show­ ing off the piecing. Cross-grain layout-Consider that a pattern will often fit on a cross-grain layout. The cross-grain of a woven fabric can stretch more than the lengthwise grain, so if you opt for this solution, place all of the pattern pieces on this grainline.

Invisible piecing-Another solu­ tion I like to use when I don't have quite enough fabric is invisible piecing. It works best on garment areas that don't readily show when the garment is worn, such as the crotch extension on pants or the underarm of a sleeve (see the draw­ ings on p. 42 for layouts of this type of piecing). I always create new pattern pieces by dividing gar­ ment sections with added seams instead of piecing leftover fabric to make yardage. This way, I can be sure my pieced seams go where I want them. I'm also careful to place the new pattern piece on the same grainline as the main pattern piece. If you're working with a print, in­ visible piecing requires meticulous alignment of repeats. Stripes, checks, or unfussy motifs let the seam melt into the fabric's pattern. It's much easier to blend repeats of a pattern that has no b ack­ ground, such as the check of the jacket fabric on the facing page. A seam is more difficult to conceal on a print with large amounts of background and a tiny pattern. Show-off piecing-If the shapes of the pattern pieces leave fairly large unused portions of the fabric, consider piecing that does show but looks like part of the garment design. For example, a sleeve takes a good deal of fabric and may not fit on the width or length of the remaining fabric. Because of the underarm exten­ sions, there are often chunks of

Piecing can be the cure to many shortage dilemmas. An unexpected second fabric can change the character of a garment. as in the dress at top. In the blouse second from top. seam lines are actually piecing lines. The scraps from silk pants were too good to waste. and new seamlines spiced up the top's plain front. Hems too short? Add a lengthening design detail. such as the vented extension on the polka-dot pants third from top. At right. two tricks for sleeves: Make an extension interesting by changing grainline (left) or make the entire sleeve from a knit in a color related to the main fabric.

april/may 2 0 0 0


J UGGL I NG A LAYOUT Try these layout strategies next time you 're short of fabric. Create new style lines to make smaller pattern pieces; invisibly piece crotch extensions on pants; or take advantage of odd shapes of leftover fabric. 1. Center-front piecing would have been enough to fit tank on pants layout, but extra horizontal style line adds style.


Cut apart at style lines.



==� Add seam

allowances (s.a.s.).

Lower bodice

New pattern fits nicely with pants layout.

QC I front

Front o--JI-+upper ----\---+fbodice

f?5 back

Lower bodice

2. Create narrower pattern pieces with the addition of style lines. Bodysuit began without princess lines.

,------ --

Center front with seam allowance (s.a.) Side front with s.a.


3. Piece an area ofpattern that won 't be noticed, like back crotch on pants.

Extensio with s.a.




unused fabric outside of the pattern piece. But if the sleeve pat­ tern is reconfigured, say, by cut­ ting the pattern in half from shoulder to wrist and repositioned on the fabric, it may fit. But how will that extra seam af­ fect the garment's style? The new seamline might look awkward, or worse, like you didn't have enough fabric and had to piece it. But if you remember that additional seams create their own style lines, you can evaluate their impact on the garment's design. To help you decide where to split a pattern piece, imagine how the new seamline will appear on your body. Since seamlines are direc­ tional, leading the eye along them, you can use the same principles that you use to choose styles that look good on you. For example, a small-busted figure is enhanced by a seam marching horizontally or diagonally across the front, while a large-busted figure would be flat­ tered more by a center-front seam that leads the eye vertically. Or, since most of our attention is fo­ cused on the garment's front, the center back is an obvious spot for a new vertical seam that won't call attention to itself. Another trick for adding seam­ lines is to take a look at the shapes left on the fabric after you've laid out the pattern, and see if they sug­ gest a new pattern shape. For ex­ ample, adding a princess line to a plain-front garment creates two new, smaller pattern pieces that would fit on narrow empty shapes of fabric (see drawing No. 2 at left). Or create a new pattern piece that fits into an available shape, as I've done on the sarong skirt on the facing page. Once you've determined where to add a seam, think about adding a new style element to the garment. For example, instead of simply adding a bit of fabric to lengthen a

pair of too-short pants, devise an interesting extension, like that on the polka-dot pants on p. 41. This trick works for sleeves, too. Shaped or straight faced bands of fabric can extend hems that are too short on jackets, tops, or skirts (see the illustrations on the facing page for ideas on using band extensions). And while you're adding a new seamline, why not consider insert­ ing a pocket into it? A lot short on fabric? What if there's not enough fabric no matter what creative approach you take to extending it? I've found that introduCing a second piece of fabric is an effective solution. I try to avoid a patchwork look, which can be beautiful but isn't my style, and usually cutting an entire gar­ ment section from the second fab­ ric avoids this effect, as in the ray­ on dress shown at the top of p. 41. Nonetheless when a second fabric is used, it can look mis­ matched to the original or seem arbitrary. To keep the garment's design cohesive using two fabrics, first make sure the second fabric has good reason to be selected. Sometimes it's an engineering con­ cern, as in a fitted bodice with a heavy fabric below it; the bodice may demand a firm fabric to add the necessary structure to the gar­ ment. Often, though, the second fabric just has to look right. The design tools I use to keep a second fabric from feeling out of place are repetition, proportion, and visibility: Repeating the sec­ ond fabric throughout the garment, as I've done in the ensemble on p. 40, integrates it into the design. Proportion, or the amount of the second fabric used in relation to the first, is also a key element. If the two fabrics in the design coordi­ nate in color, value, and texture, you will have a lot of freedom to

combine them in varying amounts. If the second fabric contrasts with the first, you may want to use less of it, and let the original fabric dominate the design. Ask yourself, too, how attention­ getting is the second fabric? For example, adding a hot pink print to a cool cobalt blue fabric, even if it's just used as a small band at a skirt's hemline, will draw the eye to it. Sometimes it's better not only to use less of a bright fabric but also to place it near the face or wherever you want the eye to travel. Sometimes I have just enough ex­ tra fabric left over from a project to make an additional garment, like a tank top to go with pants. When there's not quite enough fabric for the second garment, it's really fun to experiment with extending the fabric, since your main garment is already made. Many times a matching garment can be made with extra leftover fabric. Occasionally, it does make sense to abandon a proj ect, for example, when so much piecing is needed that it's simply not worth the trou­ ble. But recognizing that coming up short on fabric is often a fix­ able situation will keep disap­ pointment at bay, and you'll end up with a garment that looks as good or better than the one you planned. And it just might open doors to new sewing ideas.

FAN CY H E M EXTENDERS As long as piecing is needed, why not create an interesting detail like a scallop or tiered band at a hem? And playing with this basic concept of em­ bracing and embellishing the piecing. why not insert piping or a pocket into the new seam?

Sarah Veblen is a member of the Professional Association of Custom Clothiers (PACC) and sews custom gar­ ments in Sparks, Md.

The location of new seamlines can

Only the ties of this sarong skirt (author's original design) were needed in a second fabric, but incorporating a part of the skirt's main body in the second fabric created a great new style line.

make a difference.

april/may 2 0 0 0


Inkjet Printing on Fabric Use your computer to design and print your own washable fabrics by Luanne Seymour Cohen



he difficult part of printing on fabric with an inkjet printer isn't getting the fabric into the printer and making a print. The problem is that the print will spot or wash off at the first hint of moisture because inkjet inks are highly water-soluble. After three years of experimentation and frustration, I've finally solved this washability problem. In this article, I'll describe my whole process and compare it to other approaches I've tried. You'll find supply lists and source information on p. 47. Of course, like everything else connected with computers, new technologies and innovative ways of using them come along frequently, so it always pays to keep

an eye out for the latest developments. At the Threads Web site (, you'll find a list of Internet resources for keeping up to the minute on developments in inkjet-on-fabric printing. In the meantime, the current state of the art is quite exciting. A fixative that works The summer before last, having completely given up on a washable inkjet print, I nonetheless decided to use some illustrations I'd created on my computer to make my next quilt. Instead of printing the images in full color, I planned to print just the outlines on a piece of fabric, then fill in the colors using fabric paint, sort of like coloring in a coloring book.

Printing went as well as expected, but while I was painting, I couldn't help getting some of the fabric paint onto the black inkjet outlines. Right away, it struck me that maybe the fabric paint would "fix," or seal in, the ink. I did some experiments and found that, yes, fabric paint does bind the ink to the fabric. So, I was back in the game! For my invisible coating, I'm now using Versatex Extender, which is basically a colorless fabric paint. It's typically used to thin the color of Versatex fabric paint without changing its consistency. I chose it because it's nontoxic, inexpensive ($6 for 16 oz.), and it leaves the fabric feeling relatively soft. Admittedly, it's never as soft as uncoated fabric, but it's much softer than the results

"£"c�"c "a 6."


Iv;c�0� 1� 1a. ".,;� 1a.8

I've gotten with photo-transfer papers that are ironed onto fabric after printing on the papers. Once I coat the inkjet-printed fabric with Extender, I let it dry, and then heat­ set it with an iron. The image be­ comes permanently bonded to the fibers and won't wash out, even in a machine. The trick is to get as thin and even a coating of Extender on your print as possible. Here's how I do it: First, attach you r fabric to paper Fabric goes easily through most inkj et printers if it's backed with paper, then cut to a size the printer can handle. The easiest way to layer fabric on a paper backing is to iron it to the shiny side of freezer paper. Place the fabric wrong side up on your ironing board, then lay the freezer paper shiny side down over it. You can get eight 8�- by 1 1-in. pages across the width of � yd . of fabric if you cut and iron carefully, as shown in the diagram on p. 47. Turn the steam off on your iron and use a medium to high setting. Press for about 15 to 20 seconds until the paper is firmly attached to the fabric. Make sure every inch is pressed, especially the edges, but if there are a few bubbles in the mid­ dle, don't worry too much about them. Re-press if necessary to get the fabric as smooth as possible. It's very important to have clean­ ly cut, uniformly sized pages to avoid misfeeds or jams in your printer. With a sharp rotary cutter and a few clear gridded rulers handy, place the fabric/paper com­ bo onto a cutting mat, with the pa­ per on top, and mark and cut it as shown in the diagram on p. 47. Make sure that the edges are crisp and clean and there are no bits of thread hanging off them. Adjust your printer for heavy paper and

send the combination through as though it were a single sheet. Allow the ink on your printed image to dry for a few hours at least. The ink will spread less if you let it sit for a day or more. Make sure it is totally protected from any moisture as it dries. Then, apply the Extender I've tried several ways to apply the Versatex Extender to the dried print, and each has its pros and cons. The cheapest method is simply to brush it on with a foam brush, but this usually gets too much Extender on the fab­ ric, which makes it too stiff. If you brush too hard, the image can smear. My favorite method is to use a silkscreen and squeegee, which eliminates smearing and seems to apply the thinnest, most even layer. If your silkscreen is larg­ er than 8� by 1 1 in . , just apply masking tape to create a rectangle that is slightly larger than the area of your image. Then deposit a line of Extender across one end of the screen and use the squeegee to spread it across the entire open­ ing on the screen in one smooth stroke. 8�- by 11-in. screen from an art-supply store shouldn't cost more than $ 1 5 . I've also used a Krylon foam sten­ cil roller (likewise available from an art-supply store) to roll on Extender. The foam is high-density and gives smooth, even coverage, but it can spread the image a bit. If your image has a lot of black in it, the roller seems to pick up the black ink and roll it around on the image, so it would be better to use a squeegee in this case. But the roller works very well for color im­ ages. I use a plastic takeout salad tray as a roller tray. It's safest to place the Extender­ coated, fabric-and-paper sheet on a


MOUn ted On free Zer pape r, l11any kin d b fa ric (I' S of , ke the n I en on the fac;n , g page) can b e prin d te on b USi'ng y an rd lnary ink'e t J pr;n ter. To m a Yo ur prin ke ts Wa sh b a le a X ten der (b . pply elow lef tO ols a v t) Wi th aila bl m Os S tores, SUc t ar t-suPP h as ly a i sc a sq u reen a eegee ( nd sh o Wn h ere /(rylo ) Or a n s ten cil rolle r





flat surface and let it dry before re­ moving the paper, but this will pro­ long the drying time. If you're in a hurry, remove the freezer paper carefully so the wet fabric doesn't touch itself, then hang it up to dry. Make sure you don't touch the wet fabric to any other fabric or furni­ ture; the wet ink may stain it. Once the fabric is completely dry, it's ready to heat-set. Remove the freezer paper if you haven't already done so, then iron the fabric, image side down, for 30 seconds on cotton/linen setting, or whatever your fabric can take. I typically heat-set for a little longer than 30 seconds. You can also use a clothes dryer if you know it will reach a temperature of 2500 or more. Let it dry for at least 25 minutes. Some things to remember: Always make a test print on paper first, to make sure the im­ age colors and size are right before printing on the fabric sheet. Calibrate your monitor and printer for predictable color results. Look in the image-software manu­ al for instructions on how to en­ sure consistent results. Make sure the image fits your paper. If you overprint the edge of

U S I N G YOU R P R I NTED FABRIC Printed fabric works equally well for soft furnishings and garments, and is particularly suited for pieced quilts and clothing. Let your imagination play,

april/may 2 0 0 0


SHARP NESS C O M PAR I SON FOR VAR I OUS FA BR I CS Extender-treated cotton

Extender-treated linen

Jacquard steam-set silk

Extender-treated Simco fabrics*

V") L.U

U 0::: � o V") L.U

CJ � L

cot on twil or rayon sheeting


Sharper's not always better, but if sharp is what you need, the

as these comparisons reveal. Each column in the chart above shows the same fabric printed with three different computergenerated images. choices are clear,



the sheet, it gets messy and this could damage your printer. Always trim loose threads from the sheets before feeding them to the printer so they don't show up on later prints and spoil the image.

Linen and silk work best I've tried this technique with regular quilting cotton, hand-dyed cotton, 200-count Pima cotton, linen, habotai silk, and silk charmeuse; you can see a few results in the chart above. Some of the linen was a bit thick and tended to rub on the inkjet inks, but the image seems to stay sharper and spread slightly less on linen than on cotton. Some printers have an adj ustment for thicker material such as envelopes, which can help with a coarser

fabric. I recommend the 200-count Pima cotton for quilters who will be machine-quilting their quilts-the finer weave retains detail better than regular quilting cotton, but it is tough to hand-quilt. Colors are most vibrant on the silks, but these tend to be harder to handle, and the grain of the silk can wiggle when going through the printer. I found the habotai easiest to work with. And, of course, you can feed any color fabric, not j ust white, through the printer for a color-oncolor effect. Other methods Several companies are currently selling fabric premounted on paper backing that's also pretreated to accept inkj et inks well without

spreading or bleeding. Jacquard Products (see "Supplies and sources" on the facing page) offers three di[ferent $ 19.95 inkj et kits for fabric artists. These include specially treated, paper-backed silk fabric, an instruction book, and a wash medium that protects undyed areas from picking up color when first washed. These products are all based on the fact that inkjet printer inks use the same sort of acid dyes that silk dyers use. These dyes will easily wash off cotton or linen as described, but they are permanent and colorfast on silks when steam-heated. The kit I tried is aimed at quilters. It contained five sheets of 8�- by l l-in. pretreated white silk attached a paper backing. The results I got with these


�uc0 0."00.��. i £ 2B


fabrics were superior in color and detail to the ones I printed using my Extender method, plus the feel or drape of the fabric was not al­ tered by the process. After printing the sheets, 1 steam­ set them for an hour on my stove. I followed the instructions precisely and ended up boiling all the water out of the pan before the time was up. A couple of the images got moist and the colors ran during the heat-setting process, so they were ruined. The remaining fabric images were beautiful: They had crisp edges and the color was sat­ urated and didn't fade or spread. To make the samples shown on the facing page, however, I bought the same kit several more times, and each time got significantly less­ sharp results, so consistency ap­ pears to be a concern. Recently, I discovered another source of fabrics prepared for inkjet printing called Simco Products For Design (see the list of sources be­ low). Like Jacquard, Simco's pri­ mary customers are industrial users with large-format printers,

needing fabric by the bolt, but they, too, will sell their backed fabrics in sizes and quantities useful for folks with desktop printers and limited needs. Simco's industrial clients aren't concerned with washability, so you have to fix your work (or frame it), but this allows them to offer a wide range of fabrics pretreated to print beautifully, including several cottons (knits, twills, sheeting), rayon, spandex, polyester satins, silk, and so on. By combining my fixative method with their fabrics, I got the sharpest, best-defined, washable fabric images ever from my inkj et. I machine-washed my Simco sam­ ples several times in hot water with detergent without causing any noticeable fading. One interesting new product is called Bubble Jet Set. It's a solu­ tion that you apply to the fabric before printing. Apparently i t works better with some inkj ets than others. For more informa­ tion about the product, visit the Dharma Trading Company Web site at www.

TO PREPARE FABRIC FOR I N KJ ET PRI NTI N G These directions show how to cut 8'..1.- by 1 1-in.

Which method works best? I've calculated that I can prepare 16 8%- by l l -in. sheets out of 1 yd. of fabric for less than 60<): per sheet, using either Pima cotton or lOmm habotai silk, including the cost of the Extender, compared to around $4 per sheet from Jacquard or Sim­ co. So, I'll only use prepared fabrics when sharpness or drape is more important than cost. Sometimes, of course, a softer, less-sharp image is just what the proj ect needs. If you don't mind the stiff, rub­ bery feel of an iron-on transfer, then this is probably the easiest way to go. And you can create transfers on photocopiers without even using a computer. But if you want to re­ tain more of the drape and texture of the fabric, and like to design on your computer (or scan digital pho­ tos, etc . ) , then printing directly onto fabric with your inkjet print­ er might be perfect for you.

pages ofpaper-laminated fabric, using 45-in. fabric.

f:----- 45 ---1 in.


I ,""" -.L8

1 in.

Step 1. Position freezer paper shiny side down on wrong side of fabric and iron to laminate.


1 in .

r�F�E�LJ 8'h by 1 1

Step 2 . Use rotary cutter and ruler to divide laminated fabric into printer-sized pages.

Luanne Seymour Cohen prints on fabriC, makes quilts, teaches, and writes for the digital design industry from Mountain View, Calif

Supplies and sou rces Recommended hardware

• • • • • • •

PC or Macintosh computer I n kjet printer


use the Epson

Stylus Photo EX because it handles 11- by 17-i n. paper.) Digital camera and/ or scanner

Recommended software (Mac and PC) Adobe Photoshop for painting or photo-i maging

(adobe. com)

Adobe PhotoDeluxe for painting or photo-i maging

(adobe. com)

Adobe Illustrator for type and graphiC illustrations

(adobe. com)

MetaCreations Painter 6 for creating painterly images from

• • • •• •• •

Xaos Terrazzo for exploring symmetrical design i n Photo­ shop or Painter


Xaos Paint Alchemy for painter­ ly image effects in Photoshop or Painter


•• ••

Reynolds Freezer paper I ron Cotton, silk. or linen yardage (I recommend white 200-count Pima cotton labeled " pfd." or " p repared for dyei ng.") Rotary cutter 24-in. Omnigrid ruler Cutting mat

San Rafael . CA 94915

roller pan OR


Silkscreen and squeegee


Versatex textile paint Extender


(comes in 4-oz



catalog@dharmatrad Web site:


. dharmatrading.comjijf.html


(Extender. general supplies

Jacquard Products Rupert. Gibbon PO Box 425

Dharma Trading Company PO Box 150916

or 1-gallon sizes)

Recommended supplies ( 18-in .-wide roll)

Fabric paintbrushes OR Krylon foam stencil roller and


for fabric printing and dyeing)

Spider. Inc.

Healdsburg. CA 95448

Simco Products For Design


9060 Activity Rd.


Suite E

Web sites:

San Diego. CA 92126 silkconnection.comjbuysilkj silkpagesjinkjetsilk.htm

scratch or from photos

(Silk prepared for i n kjet


printing. printing kits)

800-807-4626 Web site:

(Fabrics prepared for i n kjet printing)

april/may 2 0 0 0


Convertible Garments

MAKE REM OVA BLE SLEEVES Select a jacket pattern with kimono or dropped-shoulder sleeves. not set-in sleeves. or use ReVisions Java Jacket pattern (available from address in caption on facing page) to make convertible jacket/vest. Join with snaps Finish sleeve-cap Dropped-shoulder sleeve pattern


Kimono-sleeve pattern

For pattern with cut-on sleeve. cut pattern and add l'h-in. to 2-in. button underlap. Add l-in. hem allowance to upper part of sleeve.



Sleeve with Java Jacket adaptation Pattern back

Extend side seams to height of sleeve cap plus underlap width.

edge or line sleeve.


or buttons.

Increase your wardrobe (and travel) options with snaps, zippers, buttons, and imagination by Linda Lee

love making garments that do double duty by changing from one style to another. Besides being clever and fun, convert­ ible garments are practical for a number of reasons: They make packing for a trip easier, take up less space in a small closet, adapt to the weather, extend a career wardrobe, and, of course, offer two garments for the price of one.

to make a skirt. I'll show you a few simple ideas and techniques for two-in-one garments, which, com­ bined with your imagination, can make an infinite variety of trans­ formable clothing.

Reversible garments allow you to go qUickly from day to evening; and creating changeable pockets, sleeves, collars, and hems adds endless versatility to a Single piece. Also, by cleverly styling a garment, you can make it convert from one piece of clothing into a completely different one: for example, a skirt whose waistband unfolds to make a sun-dress, or a top that rearranges

Constructing reversible garments Though a double-duty jacket, top, or skirt is a practical item, there

A new look is a snap away. Snaps were used for the detachable sleeves on ReVisions Java Jacket No. 1 04 (facing page; PO Box 7404, Carmel, CA 9 3 921 or revisions­ ericson. com). Below, Zippers convert pants to shorts (adapted from Burda pattern 3098).

A D D A TU BULAR Z I P P ER TO PANTS OR SLEEVES Cut pattern, then add placket extension to top portion to cover zipper and seam allowances (s.a.s.) and add s.a. to bottom piece. Install zipper separated, positioning pull at outside seam with small space between Zipper's top and bottom. Fold under zipper tape at top. Self-facing I


-----,...�. �.rr_:__



Pattern front Outseam


Pattern back



Separate zipper to install, stitching each tape to seam allowance through all layers.


1 �-in. J?lacket -I t extension

- Add s.a.



Don't butt zipper ends; leave !1-in. space.

april/may 2 0 0 0


USE TA BS TO CREATE SO FT D RAP ES Start with your favorite gored skirt, and, before applying waistband, sew long tabs with randomly placed buttonholes; join them to front and back of skirt at waist.

Skirts are so

The design above by Price Walton of Chicago is casual by day and serious by night, with tabs creating the Austrian-shade effect (above right). For a similar look, adapt Simplicity Another clever design (at right, facing page) uses a separating zipper to convert a shawl into a skirt or poncho top. transformable!




Now construct skirt overlay from tulle, or similar gauzy fabric. Finish seams neatly, then sew small, lightweight buttons on wrong sides of seams.

are some sewing questions to ask before starting: When planning a reversible garment, must you always use a dropped-shoulder style instead of set-in sleeves? What is the best way to hide construction details and finish edges and hems? How do you make terrific closures that work on both sides? Certain garment styles are better suited for reversibility than others, and simple, boxy shapes are decidedly the easiest to construct. But patterns with shaping elements like darts and tucks can also be used successfully. Although sewing a re-

Join skirts with waistband, then create an infinite number of draped styles by variously buttoning overlay to the tabs.

EXTEN D YOUR OP TIONS Take a big shirt or loose jacket pattern and divide itjust below the waistline. Connect the lower and upper sections with tabs, snaps, buttons, or Velcro. Either the lower or upper section needs an extension, so why not make it out of a different fabric or wide trim? Or make a peblum styled jacket with interchangeable bottom sections.

versible tailored jacket is unrealistic, you can reverse a semi-fitted jacket or top with simple necklines. The cap on a set-in sleeve should be analyzed for its ability to reverse; high set-in sleeves are the most difficult to work in. However, set-in sleeve styles with low caps and little or no ease (see the drawing on p. 52) work nicely with fluid fabric, like rayon, silk, or wool crepe. A reversible fitted top with set-in sleeves, like that shown on p. 52, is flattering and easy to sew. For patterns that require shoulder pads, wear removable foam pads or se-

cure a thin, soft, flexible felt or cotton-flannel shoulder-filler pad between the two layers. To make the front edges, neck edges, and hem of a reversible jacket look neat, enclose them wrong sides together with binding or treat the two fabrics of both sides as one, like an underlining, then flatfell the seams. You can make the front, neck, and bottom edges look similar to the flat-felled seams by double-folding the edge and topstitching it. A common way to construct a reversible garment is to sew two sep-

-"�c jg."JiEC� � �

ij(5\J <3c� ifS

TURN A SHAWL INTO A SKIRT OR P ONCHO TOP A long rectangle of drapey fabric, finished on all sides, with a separating zipper placed as shown below, makes three garments instantly. Wear Zipped-up Separating Zipper version as

TI 1 �I�-�-=-==-=-

22 in.

Waist measurement

f-------=-1 --- -----: �

-==-:=: :: -: _ � - -��=:=:::2::y:: ::: -'=_ -==:::: : . =:: � -:: ::::_ : dS:: - := -

L�� "0"�c ci:i !" � 0.� ,:1

arate garments, then join them right sides together, leaving an opening for turning right side out. With this method, a problem sometimes occurs with lightweight or drapey fabric: One or both fabrics sag at the hem, unless the garment is quilted, or the two layers are hemmed and allowed to hang separately. To prevent fabric from sagging, let the garment hang after the front and neck edges have been sewn. Then, pin the hem fabrics together as they fall naturally, and stitch. To make the front edges and hem turn precisely for both sides, first

trim and clip the seam allowances. Then take the time to press the seam open, even though, after turning, the seam allowances will be pressed to one side. You'll find these steps will make the two layers of your reversible garment meet exactly at the edge. Closures on a reversible garment must function easily on each side. Although you can sew two sets of buttons on each side of one front edge, they might be bulky or uncomfortable to wear unless they're thin and flat. alternative is to make buttonholes on the front but-


a skirt or poncho top.

1:..- -

_ _ _____ .1,I

ton laps of both sides, and close the opening with a separate strip of buttons, with each button going through both buttonholes. Or, eliminate the button laps so that the two fronts meet at center front and close with ties or hooks. Remove or add on Another way to make a doubleduty garment is to have some of its parts removable. For example, a button-on section lengthens or shortens a hem, as shown in Lynn Mizono's Inventor Shirt (middle photos, these two pages), which

Buttons can add dimension to your

DeSigner Lynn Mizono used buttons on her Inventor Shirt to transform it from big shirt (at right, facing page) to short jacket (at left above). Try this technique with Vogue 9070. wardrobe:

april/may 2 0 0 0


CHOOSE LOW-CAP, SET-IN SLEEVE FOR REVERSIBILITY Avoid sleeves with high caps and more ease.

High cap, more ease

Sleeve styles with flatter caps and little or no ease reverse well.

Zippers and snaps by mail Birch Street Clothing, Inc.

PO Box 1 1 1 0 Alta. CA 95701 800-73 6-0854 Custom Zips

PO Box 1200 South Norwalk. CT 06856 203-866-1 540 Textile Outfitters


7 3 5 1 0th Ave SW Calgary. AB. Canada T2R OB3 403-543-7676 Bee Lee Co.

PO Box 36108 Dallas. TX 7 5 2 3 5 800-527-5271



transforms a big shirt into one that could be tucked into pants or serve as a cropped j acket. An­ other approach is to have sleeves that detach, making a jacket be­ come a vest, as in Diane Ericson's Java Jacket (see the photos on p. 48). No one has to know that your j acket is also a vest, if the buttons are either hidden from view or, conversely, flaunted as embellishment. To create button­ on sections that aren't already designed into the pattern, see the drawings on p. 48. Zippers can transform garments magically, too: It's easy to make shorts from pants with a zipper installed in the legs, as in the example shown in the pictures on p. 49. Use separating zippers the same way you would use a button placket-either hidden or exposed (see the sources at left to find the right size, weight, and color of zipper) . The drawings at the bot­ tom of p. 49 show how to add a tubular zipper to pants legs and jacket sleeves.

A double­ layer silk top with set-in sleeves and center-back button closure can be red one day and gold another (try adapting Burda 2 964). Nothing beats a reversible garment to make traveling easier.

And don't forget snaps. They are wonderful for attaching removable garment sections. Snaps can either function discreetly or, in bright col­ ors, as embellishment. Tiny snaps don't add much weight, so light­ weight fabrics maintain their flu­ idity. For medium- to heavier-weight fabrics, switch to heavier snaps. Two-i n-one garments A different approach to making convertible clothes is to construct a garment that changes identity when worn in different ways, like the skirt in the right photos on p. 51, which alternately serves as a top or shawl (I recently saw this simple, clever design in a shop win­ dow in Paris). A sarong, too, can be worn on either top or bottom-as a halter top, short dress, or long skirt (make a reversible sarong for even more choices). Or, use tabs, but­ tons, and zippers to change the

nature of a garment. For example, modify the hemline of a skirt (as in the sketches at the top pp. 4-5), or the length of shirt sleeves or pants, as on p. 49. And ifyou want a dressy, playful evening skirt, add tabs that manipulate one or both layers of fabric, as in the skirt shown on p. 50, whose outer layer can be made shorter and pouffy in some areas and drape longer in others. You can make tabs from ribbons, scraps of fabric, elastic, braided cord, or any workable fastening idea. Convertible garments are fun, challenging, and creative, and some­ times lead to interesting innova­ tions in design. The next time you start a garment, think about mak­ ing it work double time, and have some serious sewing fun.

Linda Lee encourages creative sewing as owner of The Sewing Workshop, in San Francisco, Calif.

Make Sense of Your Serger's

Differe nti al Feed

Th i s val u able featu re co ntro l s bias and m akes p u cker-free seams, beautifu l edges, and gathers without fidd l i ng with ten sions by Pamela Busque

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f your serger is less than a dozen years old, chances are it has differential feed-a feature that allows the feed dogs to run at different speeds-to help control the seaming of tricky fabrics such as silks and stretchy knits. In addition to giving you pucker-free seams on troublesome fabric, differential feed also makes gathering easier, helps decorative edge finishes stay smooth and even, and offers solutions to other seaming and edge-finishing problems. In short, differential feed is a terrific tool for refining your

sewing. If you're unclear about the capabilities of differential feed, read on. I'll review how this feature works, and how it can make your serger sewing and faster. The mechanics of differential feed A serger's feed dogs run the entire length of the presser foot, which is a good deal longer than that of a standard sewing machine. The two parallel tracks of feed-dog teeth on a differential feed serger are divided in the center, giving them a front and rear set. This makes it possible

for the two sets of feed dogs to move independently of each other, which, in turn, lets you manipulate the way the fabric moves under that extra-long presser foot. The serger's rear feed dogs cannot be adjusted, but the front ones can be set to run faster, slower, or at the same rate as the rear set. Their speed is changed with a dial or a control slide, which at the normal setting of 1.0, makes them run at the same rate as the rear set. When the dial is set to a higher number (the highest is usually between 2.0 and 2 . 5 ) , the speed of the front

The feed dogs on a serger with differential feed are divided into front and rear sets

(left). compared to a standard sewing machine's single set (right). The serger's rear set always runs at a fixed speed, while the front set can be made to run faster, slower, or the same as the rear set. (For clarity. the machines' presser feet were removed.)

feed increases. Lower the number (to .05 or .07), and they'll move slower than the rear feed. The faster-than-normal speeds are re­ ferred to as a positive feed, and the slower ones as a negative feed. Positive-feed settings At higher-than-normal settings, dif­ ferential feed makes speedy work of gathering fabric, eliminates wavy edges on stretchy knits, keeps dec­ orative edge finishes flatter, and con­ trols bias seams. Here's how to per­ form some of these little miracles. G a the ing Positive differential feed Significantly reduces the steps involved in the gathering process. First, set up the serger: 1 . Use a four-thread stitch. 2. Increase left- and right-needle tensions to seven (you may be able to turn the dial higher, but if the threads break, you've gone too far). 3. Set the differential feed to its highest speed. 4. Increase the stitch length as much as your serger will allow. These adjustments will give you the tightest gathers your machine is capable of. Decrease any of these settings to get looser gathers (see top left photo). Also, the type and weight of fabric affect the potential tightness of the gathers; the lighter the fabric, the tighter it will gather. To determine how much fabric is needed, I cut a 20-in. strip of fab­ ric, run it through the serger at the above settings, and remeasure. If it shrinks to 10 in., I plan yardage for a 2-1 ratio. This type of gather­ ing can also be adjusted. Leave a tail of serging at each end, and you can pull some of the gathers out if it is too tight. For more gathers, pull up the needle threads. Once you have the fabric gath­ ered, position it to the flat fabric with an offset seam so that it ex­ tends about in. (see bottom left photo). Place the blade of the serg-

r -

and it's easy to control the amount of gathering on most fabrics. Tighten needle tensions, set the differential feed to its highest speed, and let the machine create the gathers as you serge. Lower the differential's speed to create fewer gathers (a). Or leave long thread tails and gently spread the gathers (b). To tighten gathers, pull on the needle threads (c). To stitch gathered fabric to flat fabric, offset layers with the serger's knives lined up with the gathered edge (d). Differential feed makes gathering a simple task,

er right next to the gathered serging to ensure catching all the gathered fabric and threads in the final seam.You can also set the serger with a narrow width for the gath­ ering and a wider width for the at­ taching, or use a gathering attach­ ment for your serger to do the gathering and attaching in one quick step. Knit sea s When sewing in the direction of a knit fabric's stretch, the fabric can get wavy on the edges, causing seams to grow and hems to flare. Call differential feed to the rescue! Use a knit scrap to test-stitch along the crosswise and lengthwise grain. Starting with the differential feed dial at 1.0, gradually increase the number as you sew, until the waves disappear and you have a flat seam. Record the settings for both directions of the knit's stretch so that you'll get perfect seaming in both cases. Edge finishe at could be eas­ ier than finishing an edge with a decorative thread? Sometimes, though, the fabric will stretch and wave when rounding corners or follOwing curves. The solution is "spot-feeding" as you serge. Use a normal feed setting for most of the edge, then as you near a curve or rounded corner, increase the dif­ ferential feed for a smooth, flat curve (see the top left photo on the faCing page). Bias ta ing Since bias-cut fabric is so stretchy, seams cut and sewn on the bias are difficult to stitch without puckering or stretching out of shape, thus affecting the gar­ ment's drape. Here are three steps to a flatter, smoother bias seam: 1. When cutting out the garment, cut a strip of test fabric that is the same length and on the same grainline as the seam to be sewn. 2. Measure and record the pattern's seam length.



m -


Change the differential feed to a higher setting as you serge around curves to keep them flat. After completing the curve, return to the normal setting.

While loosen­ ing tension eliminates puckers like those on the bottom sample, the looser stitches on the top left sample appear as a ladder on the fabric's right side (top right). Instead, tighten the tension to eliminate the ladders and pick a negative differential-feed setting to prevent puckering, because the fabric is stretched slightly as it feeds.

An easy fix for puckering seams:

Eliminate stretching on bias-cut seams. Use differential feed to counteract the stretch of bias: Test on a sample cut to the length of the seam, compare the sample to the pattern seam's length, then fine-tune the feed until your seam matches the pattern.

3. With the differential feed set at 1 .5 , serge the sample, then com­ pare its length to the pattern mea­ surement. If it's not the same length, keep adjusting the feed higher or lower until both match (see the bottom photo above). Then you'll have perfect bias seaming. Negative-feed settings By setting the front feed dogs to move slower than the rear (below 1.0), you can resolve some types of seaming problems and also get decorative stitching effects. Stitching from a double to sin­ gle layer of fabric-When the ten­

sion is set perfectly for stitching a garment's seams, any portion of the project that requires finishing the edge of a Single layer may puck­ er. This is due to the difference in the fabric thickness. Adjusting the tension settings is one solution, but it's easier to change the differ­ ential feed (and you won't have to remember original tension set­ tings). So anytime you need to serge a single layer, set the differ-

ential dial to .05. By slowing down the feeding system, the fabric stretches slightly and a nice flat edge is produced. Con quering uc ers Thin, slip­ pery fabrics can be difficult to serge without puckering. Loosening the needle thread tensions eliminates puckers, but the stitches show as a "ladder" on the fabric's right side (see the top right photo). Tighten­ ing the tension prevents the lad­ der effect but causes the pucker­ ing. To resolve this dilemma, use the tighter tension and a low num­ ber on the differential feed dial. (Experiment: Each machine re­ sponds a little differently). This al­ lows the serger to slightly stretch the seam, while giving you the nice, tight tension you want. Rolled edges-The rolled-hem stitch makes a lovely edge finish, and is mostly used on a Single lay­ er of fabric. Because of the settings this stitch requires, the edges will often pucker. Use the solution ex­ plained above to control puckering and create even, flat, rolled edges.

p k



Lettuce-leaf edgi g-Also made with the rolled-hem stitch, the let­ tuce-leaf edge ruffles and flutters. Differential-feed adjustments can facilitate making a perfect lettuce­ leaf edging. Here's how: 1. Set the differential feed to the lowest number on the dial. 2. Serge with the rolled-hem stitch, stretching the fabric slightly as you serge. 3. Leave a long thread tail at each end of the fabric, and after serg­ ing, manually stretch the fabric some more for beautiful lettuce­ leafed edges. Using the positive and negative settings of your differential feed makes serger sewing more profes­ sional and useful than if you leave it set continually at the normal set­ ting. Experiment with the settings, and see the difference for yourself. You'll wonder how you ever serged

without it.

Pamela Busque teaches all kinds oj sewing wizardry at the Manchester Sewing Center in Manchester, Conn.

april/may 2 0 0 0


Bag You r Jacket Lining

Th is ready-to-wear method o f inserti ng a l i n ing gives the fastest and most professional-looki ng resu lts by Sandra Millett

Lining a jacket makes it last longer and become easier to slip on and off.

bagging method is as quick or quicker than finishing an unlined jacket.

Best yet. using the

ewing j ackets is some­ thing I like to do, but lining them is another matter. By the time 1 get to that point in construction, I'm ready to put on my new jacket and sashay out the door. However, I've found that lining a jacket need not be difficult or time­ consuming if it's inserted with the bagging method, often used by ready-to-wear manufacturers (and whose results are shown in the photo at left). I arrived at this con­ clusion after trying all the alterna­ tives, including sewing a lining to a jacket by hand and not lining it at all. The bagging technique elimi­ nates almost all handwork, with the major lining edges j oined to the j acket by machine. Although bagging is standard in the industry, I've tweaked the procedure for the horne sewer, and streamlined the steps so you won't think twice about inserting a lining. You'll get great results every time.

Prepare to bag All jackets benefit from having a lin­ ing; it lets the jacket slide easily over other clothes, drape correctly on the body, and stand up to wear and tear. Any jacket pattern, whether it includes a lining or not, can be used to make a bagged lining. If you're using a pattern without a lining, it's easy to make a lining pattern (see the drawings on p. 58). Keep in mind that the b agging process won't work without a back neck facing, which is also a cinch to make a pattern for, as shown in the same drawings. And if you're one of those people who always needs to shorten or lengthen a jacket's sleeves or body, alter your pattern before

To sew the sleeve hem to the lining: With jacket and lining right side out, push sleeve lining down jacket sleeve. Then use one pin to secure jacket sleeve seam to corresponding lining seam ( 1 ). Turn sleeves wrong side out through side seam opening (2). Pull sleeves apart, so they're facing each other, joined by the one pin (3). Remove pin, roll lining so wrong side is out and repin. Line up raw edges of jacket and lining sleeve hems, then stitch close to serged edges. Turn back through opening right side out, and press


cutting it out, because it's easier to work with a pattern that has the correct hem and sleeve lengths. The bagging procedure begins only after the jacket and lining have been constructed, but there are a few details to attend to before con­ struction. The first step is to serge­ finish the seam allowances of both the j acket and lining hems, side seams, sleeve hems, underarm seams, and the jacket's front facings. Aligning raw edges is much easier to do when they're serge­ finished, and results in more ac­ curate stitching lines. You won't see these seam allowances after the jacket is lined, but you'll know they're not raveling during wear (which many fabrics tend to do). I don't serge the neck edges or arm­ scyes, as they're mostly cut on the bias and don't ravel.

Since the jacket's seam allowances will be pressed open, don't serge any two seam allowances togeth­ er, as you might be tempted to do, for example, on the center-back seam. If you don't have a serger, don't zigzag the edges, as this stitch tends to make the fabric fray more rather than less. Instead, cut clean­ ly and sew as accurately as possible. Now, construct the j acket, in­ cluding setting in the sleeves and collar, following the pattern in­ structions up to hemming and in­ serting the lining. Attach the sleeve heads and shoulder pads, too. And check to see that the hem of the jacket is even and the sleeve lengths are correct. The next step is to create a tem­ porary hem on the jacket. Hand­ baste both the entire jacket hem and the sleeve hems in. up from


the hem's fold (see the top left drawing on p. 58) and lightly steam-press the folds. This step will save you time and hassle when sewing the hem in place later on. And, as you'll see, the hem crease will serve as a stitching guide. Leave an opening in one lining seam Complete the lining, including set­ ting in the sleeves. Lining seams can be serged together in a Single pass on the machine, except for one side seam that needs to have an opening through which you'll turn the jacket right side out later (see the top left drawing on p. 58). If your jacket pattern has an under­ arm side panel, make the opening in the seam that connects the panel to the back. This designated seam needs to be sewn conventionally, so

april/ may 2 0 0 0


EASY ST EPS TO BAGG I NG A L I NING Sew lining and jacket shells

Sew lining to jacket's front edges and hem

Sew lining andjacket as usual, with these two exceptions: 1. On lining, leave opening in one side seam. Machine-baste opening closed. 2. On jacket, turn up hem and baste in. from fold. Steam-press lightly.

1. Starting at crease formed by hem fold, and with jacket on top, pin, then sew, jacket to lining along front and neck edges to opposite hem crease.


sewing here. 2. To sew hem, align serged edges (see text) and stitch.

Jacket, WS

Leave opening in one side seam, machine-basting it closed.



Serge-finish lower edge of lining.

Baste in. from hem fold; steam-press lightly.

Trim and grade seam allowance to

!4 in.

M A K E A L I N I NG PATT ERN Use jacket's pattern pieces to make lining pattern. On front, trace pattern, omitting jacket facing area, and add seam allowance (s.a.) to front edge. On back omit facing, trace pattern, adding 1 in. at center back for ease pleat. On sleeve, trace pattern as is. For all three lining pattern pieces, subtract 1 in. from hems.

/ ,\

\ area omitted. Jacket facing


Lining front

Add s.a.

Jacket front

Subtract 1 in. on all hems.



Lining back

1-in. pleat

Lining sleeve

Jacket back

that the seam allowances can be pressed open. The creases of these seam allowances will serve to guide the little bit of hand-sewing at the end of the project. After sewing and pressing all the lining seams, sew the jacket facing to the lining, as per the pattern's in58


Jacket sleeve

structions, but leave unsewn the bottom 3 in. of the facing hems (see the top left drawing). Prepare to sew lining to jacket At this point you'll have an assem­ bled lining and a complete jacket

Hem crease

Lining's unattached serged edge

shell, which are ready to be joined completely by But first, at each the jacket hem, pull out the basting stitches for the depth of the facings, so you can sew the lining's faCing to the jacket's front (see the right drawing above). Now, take the time for this next important step: Compare the width of the lining at the hem to the width of the jacket. If they don't match exactly at the side seams and front edges, even them up by either letting out the lining if the lining is too small or taking it in if it's too large. This precaution elim­ inates the need to ease a lining that's too big (which causes the lin­ ing to ripple) or the opposite prob­ lem, to stretch a lining that's too small to fit the jacket (which caus­ es the jacket hem to pucker). Re­ peat this step for the sleeves. If your lining and jacket widths are un­ equal, make sure to cut out the pat­ tern for your next jacket accurate­ ly, and sew exactly on the stitching

end of


Stitch opening closed

Turn jacket right side out 1 . After removing basting stitches in lining's side seam, reach through opening, grab back neck area ofjacket, pull jacket right side out through opening.

2. Push up lining at hemline, stitch hem with running stitch, using thread that exactly matches jacket's color and taking small bites into jacket about in. apart. 3. Slipstitch unsewn bottom of faCing.


Make invisible stitches by starting a stitch directly across from previous stitch, push needle along inside of crease, emerge same side, stitch across. Pull up stitches.

Sew hem in place with running stitch. Jacket turned right side out

lines. The day I learned these lessons, the quality of my finished garment improved tremendously. Join lining to jacket Ready to sew nonstop? Rev up your machine, and sew the lining to the j acket front and neck edges in one continuous seam, as shown in the top right drawing on the faCing page. Next, sew the jacket and lin­ ing bottom edges together. Here's the payoff for premeasuring the lin­ ing and jacket widths-sewing the hem is a breeze. Keeping right sides together, flip the jacket'S basted hem open, but don't remove any basting stitches along the hem. Align the serged edge of the jacket'S hem to the lining's serged hem, matching all of the lining's side seams to the jacket'S corresponding side seams. Pin the entire hemline, and then stitch the two together just inside the serged stitching. Take care not to stretch the pinned fabrics. That's it! Now turn the jacket and sew the

hem in place, following the steps outlined in the drawings above. Sleeve hems by machine The last major step is to sew the sleeve lining hems to the jacket'S sleeve hems. You'll be grateful here that you made the lining widths match those of the jacket. Shove the sleeve lining down the jacket'S sleeve and unfold the hem down and out of the sleeve, then follow the steps shown in the photos on p. 57. As was done on the jacket hem, use a running stitch to securely tack the hem of the j acket'S sleeve, remove the basting stitches, and repeat the procedure for the other sleeve. All that remains is to hand-stitch the lining's side-seam opening closed. With a Single thread that matches the lining color, hand-sew with a ladder stitch back and forth between the pressed seamline creas­ es as shown in the top right drawing. The seam will be invisible and look like a regular machine-sewn seam.

Slipstitch closed.

M AKE A BAC K- FAC I NG PATTERN Ifjacket pattern doesn't include back facing, which you need for the bagging process to work, align pattern pieces at shoulders. Trace back neck edge and extend front facing to around back.

Now sashay out the door in your newly lined jacket, knowing that you'd still be sewing it had you not used the bagging method. Might as well head to the fabric store for ma­ terial to make the next one.

Sandra Millett sews nonstop in Trophy Club, Texas.

april/may 2 0 0 0






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Here's how to inset a piece of fabric of almost any shape into any other fabric for decorative effect

Insets can be placed at a garment edge (left) or anywhere within

b y Diane Ericson


matter how much I like the fabric I'm working with in any given gar­ ment project, I some­ times want to insert a bit of some other fabric into it to increase the decorative effect. Sure, I could use a patch or an ap­ plique, but cutting out a shaped hole (almost any shape can work) and filling it precisely with a new fabric or even layers of fabrics, as I've done in the examples above, of­ fers more options for creating sur­ face relief, as you'll see. The tech­ nique is a lot simpler than you probably imagine and doesn't re­ quire a lot of marking or basting, or any exceptional skills. I'll take you through basic insetting step by

the garment fabric

step, then show you a few ways I've found to expand on the idea, in­ cluding insetting a precisely shaped, previously assembled de­ tail like a pocket, and reshaping an ordinary seamline into a deco­ ratively shaped one. Use stable fabrics and simple shapes at first Once you get the hang of insetting, almost any fabrics and shapes can be made to work, but to start off, 1 suggest you select stable, medium­ weight fabrics and simple shapes. I especially like textured weaves and stable knits in linen, cotton, wool, and blends, either synthetic or natural fibers. Avoid smooth, tightly woven fabrics such as

satin or gabardine and lightweight, slinky fabrics such as charmeuse or chiffon. Shapes with a few cor­ ners connected by straight and/or gently curved lines will be easiest to work with for your first efforts. Of course, you can simplify mat­ ters somewhat by insetting at an edge, if you prefer. There's certain­ ly no law that says you have to stay in the middle of your piece of

(top left). With a little planning. it's easy to include insets with pocket or buttonhole constructions (above. vest. ReVisions pattern # 1 07). You can also insert cords. flaps. or straps as you inset. or extend them into button tabs and other closure ideas (see the photo on p.


april/may 2 0 0 0


BASIC " F R E EHAN D " I NS E TTING Use this approach when the exact outline ofyour inset isn 't critical, stabilizing inset and background fabric as needed. Ifyour inset has no straight lines or inside curves, use the technique at the top of the facing page.

Step 1 . Pin inset piece right sides together on face of background fabric and stitch along inset's inside curve or straight edge.

Step 2. Fold inset over, right side up, and pin to mark seamline on opposite free edge.


3. Using the pin as gUide

Step 4. Clip to corners on background fabric and along

and fold background seam

background from wrong side

any curved seams.

allowances over it, pinning and/

around shape, leaving enough

or creasing background in place

fabric for seam allowances. Clip

along stitching lines.

up to ends of first seamline.

6. From wrong side, stitch

background and inset seams along folds in background fabric. Save curved seams for last, so bias give

With experience, some shapes can be stitched down and cut out

will absorb errors. Press.

entirely without marking.



Stay on grain, or add stabilizer The larger the piece I'm insetting, the more I pay attention to its grain. If possible, I want it to be on grain with the piece I'll be setting it into. If I want to inset an off-grain piece (often the design is more interest­ ing this way), I may choose to sta­ bilize it with a piece of fusible in­ terfaCing that I cut on the same grain as the background. This is especially true if the inset fabric is a loose weave. I almost always stabilize the back­ ground fabric in the area where the inset will be with fusible inter­ facing. If the fabric's pretty stable already, I may just fuse scraps of interfacing to the corners of the window where the inset will go. Sometimes, especially on loose weaves and other fabrics whose cut edges are stretchy, I also staystitch around the stitching line of the inset shape, as well as the opening in the background.

Step 5. Tuck inset inside opening

and starting point, cut away


fabric; you can add an inset any­ where in the piece, even across seams and over other insets.

Create depth by pressing Because you're seaming the inset into another fabric (and especially whenever you inset shapes over other shapes and across seams), you can easily give the illusion that some fabric shapes are behind or in front of other shapes, as in relief sculpture; you can see this to a greater or lesser extent in the ex­ amples shown here. You can add to this illusion by pressing the inset seam allowances to one side, either away from the opening or inside it. Pressing to the inside makes the inset stand forward, while press­ ing away brings the backing for­ ward and makes the inset appear recessed. If you press the seam allowances open, both inset and

P RECISION INSETTING : INSERTING A FINISHED D ETAIL .. In this example, a layered pocket detail is inset into a specific "window. Stabilize inset and background fabric as needed.


3. Cut out background, clipping

seam allowances, which should be same Step 1. Trace outline from detail on paper to create a pattern for inset

Step 2. Use pattern to

size for inset and opening. From wrong

window. Outline the shape you want, not necessarily the detail edge.

mark position and seams

side, stitch one edge of background

Cut out pattern and check it against detail.

on background fabric.

fabric to detail, lining up cut edges.

Step 4. Finger-press under remaining

Step 5. Pin background seam allowances

seam allowances of background fabric

to detail, stitch, then press.

to check position.

background will appear to be on the same level. Press in all direc­ tions and see which effects you like best. On small or narrow pieces, the seam allowances can sometimes fill out the piece as batting would do, if pressed to the inside of the shape. If you want more emphasis, you can even pad your shape to accentuate this relief effect, as I've done in the garment at top right on p. 6 l . After all, you've already cut a hole right in the middle of your work. Why stop there?

Diane Ericson writes, teaches, and creates patterns and stencils in Carmel, Calif You can learn more about her work at revisions-ericson. com.

CHANGE A STRAIGHT SEA M TO A SHAPED SEA M This usually works best ifyou stitch seams between corners as separate sections. Step 1. Cut out each seam edge to be reshaped, allowing extra seam allowance for the shaping you want- 1 ',1 in. is usually plenty. Mark original seamline on each piece. Step 2. Overlap pieces, matching and pinning on original seamline (doesn 't matter which side is on top). Cut desired shape along edges of top piece. Pin at seam line along cut edge to mark new stitching line.



Original seamlines Tc;m

U"'���? �

Pin line



Step Turn pinned piece to wrong side and trim underneath layer, follOWing pins from front, leaving seam allowance for underlayer. Clip corners and curves in seam allowances on both top and bottom.


april / may 2 0 0 0



. ... . ...

world of machine embroidery, read on. This information may entice you to join the burgeoning crowd.

Digitizing decisions Once you have chosen, assessed, and adapted, if need be, the artwork for a design (see the examples on p.

65 of changes

needed for digitizing art), consider all the digitizing possibilities. Even a small flower, such as the one at left from the motif on the chocolate pot on p.

64, can be approached in several ways,

producing results that range from cartoonish to realistic, and from densely stitched and heavily shaded to open and lacey. In the examples at left, the chief differences are the type, positioning, and density of the fill stitches and the use and type of border stitches. You can even add another fabric to create an applique design, and, of course, you can vary the design's size. These variations are just a few of the possibilities, but I think that choosing a simple design l i ke this one is a great way to practice and learn digitizing skills. To help you do just that, on our Web site ( threadsmagazine. com) you ' l l find these downloadable designs, which you can stitch out


�, /Ij

to observe the sequencing and stitch types. Then, why not try digitizing your own version of this flower?

Example 1: This digitizing approach accurately duplicates the art but creates a simple design similar to coloring-book art. I used flat, hori­ zontal fill stitches and a running-stitch outline. The broken lines indi­ cating petals create several thread jumps, which require trimming.

Example 2: Changing the di rection of the fill stitches so they radi­ ate from the center adds dimension to this version of the design.


The petal li nes also originate from the center, elimi nating excessive j u m ps and trims. Finally, each leaf is digitized in two sections that meet in the center, and the stitches are sewn at an angle to sug­ gest veins. The center of the flower is formed with a patterned fil l .

Examples 3 and 4: Version 3 uses the least amount of stitches, b u t I love the results. I digitized the flower with long, random fill stitches along its outer edge and created petal li nes with simi lar stitches that radiate from the center, leaving an open area in the flower.


satin stitch outlines the leaves, and running stitches form the veins. Because of the openness of this design, its success depends a lot on the fabric it's stitched on. Exam ple

4 is the same design sewn

tone-on-tone on sheer organza. Next time I'd digitize it with less density to reduce needle penetrations on the organza, since with a tone-on-tone design, it's u nnecessary to have dense, fu ll coverage.

Example 5: Here, I enlarged the design and made it an applique, which is a good way to add color, pattern, and texture beyond what can be achieved with thread alone. (For more on applique, see the Cactus Punch Web site at cactus-punch. com and click on Tips

& Techniques.) For the flower, I chose an uneven satin-stitch

border and used fringe surrou nding the spi ral-stitch center to add texture. The leaves are digitized like those in Example



3. -L.G.

Digitizing-what is it? In a nutshell, the digitizing process involves first evaluating the art to be digitized, selecting the stitches to use for the various parts of the de­ sign, and planning the sequence and positioning of those stitches. I've heard digitizing referred to as both an art and a science. The process is, indeed, an art form-I call it painting with thread-that has the underlying logic of com­ puter programming. It's an unpre­ dictable process, however, because of the variables involved with fabric, thread, machine tension, and types of design (for detailed information on successfully pairing fabric and deSign, see "Fabric and Design: A Machine-Embroidered Marriage" in Threads No. 86, pp. 36-41). There's no one Single formula for digitizing, but there are some strate­ gies that will help you create well­ stitched deSigns. First, you must learn your software. Most digitizing software isn't hard to learn; it just takes a little time and patience. 1 encourage you to read and reread your manual to learn the functions of the tools on the tool bars and the menu options. Then take time to play with the program and prac­ tice as much as you can. It's also helpful to watch a good embroidery design stitch out, pay­ ing careful attention to how the design is constructed: Notice how it is sequenced (that is, the order in which the design's various ele­ ments are stitched out), how dif­ ferent stitches are used to create details and textures in the deSign, and how the fabric is affected by the different types of embroidery (try stitching out the design on various fabrics to see the different effects). Then once you're ready to

start digitizing, begin with simple designs and work up to harder ones. You'll be less frustrated and have more success if you take time to learn the process. Evaluating the artwork When I was a novice digitizer, I discovered that if I couldn't draw the art clearly with a felt-tip pen, probably couldn't digitize it. I still find this rule of thumb useful. Good, clear artwork is crucial for successful embroidery. Avoid bare­ ly readable photocopies of a piece of art. The crisper and more accu­ rate your artwork, the easier it will be to correctly interpret every seg­ ment of the design to plot your dig­ itizing points. And if a design is very small, less detail will be possible in the embroidery. If the artwork is too complicated, it may need to be simplified in order to create a successful design. In short, most artwork requires some modification for embroidery (see photos l a-3b on p. 65). Before you begin digitizing, it's important to enlarge or reduce the artwork to the actual size of the finished design so you can easily see any details that need to be altered-or eliminated-for the embroidery. Computer-drawn art using a scalable vector file, such as those used in Adobe Illustrator or Corel Draw, is the best format to work with. But when that type of art is not available to you, scan and print out the art to actual size to look at the details. Use this paper copy to play with and later plan the sequence of the design. Finally, if you need art for digi­ tizing, keep in mind that many im­ ages are protected by copyright. However, there are thousands of public-domain, copyright-free de­ signs on the market, including some craft patterns, in the Clip Art Series published by Dover Books,


and in clip-art collections that are available on many Web sites (search for the key words "clip art").


Running Stitches



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Wave pattern Defining stitch types Blanket Once you've modi­ fied your artwork, you need to assign Fill Stitches stitch effects to its Start on edge Random Regular various elements from among the three types of em­ broidery stitches­ running, satin, and Satin Densities fill (see the draw­ More dense Variable density Less dense ings at right). The characteristic com­ mon to all three types of stitches is stitch length, or the distance between Fil l Densities needle penetrations. Less dense More dense Stitch length may be random, even, or calculated for a specific pattern. Running stitches form a line of nee­ U nderlay for Satin Columns Center Edge Edge Zigzag Cross (grid) dle penetrations Zigzag one after the other. They may be any length and may consist of several passes. Satin stitch­ es are columns of U nderlay for Fill Areas side-to-side, or Cross (grid) Fill Edge walk zigzag, stitches with the needle penetrations on each of two opposing, more or less parallel, sides. Fill stitches are multiple rows of running stitches A key point to remember is that that travel from one side of a there are no curved stitches. The design element to the other in illusion of curves is created by uniform steps and are used on breaking an arc into many small large areas of open spaces.


�D� m'. april/may 2 0 0 0


Digitizing software programs All major sewing-machine man ufacturers

find that you're getting a very good bang

offer software programs for their em broi­

for your buck with many home systems.

dery machines. You're not lim ited to the

Here's a list of available software for

www www www www


Janome ScanSoft PC/Customizer 2000 and Personalizer 2000

software provided with your machine,

home-embroidery machines and some

however. With conversion utilities and

conversion programs. Check each Web

your machine's software for writing to

site for a list of features and requirements:

Pfaff PC Designer So

Babylock Palette E-line Creative System

Singer PSW Professional Sew-Ware

m achine, you can purchase just about any

and price is no indicator. When you start

www www www

comparing features and prices between

Elna DreamVision Software

"home" and "professional" systems, you'll


package. There are also professional programs, but even with com mercial software there's a wide range of power and flexibil ity i n the programs available­

. babylock. com


Artista Designer Software


Brother PE-Design . brother. com

straight-stitch segments. Even if your software allows you to sew a running stitch in a curved line, if you inspect the result, you'll see the stitches don't curve at all. Stitches bring life to an embroi­ dery deSign, so consider the look of each type of stitch and how to lay the stitches on the design before deciding which to use for a given section. For example, if you're dig­ itizing an animal, think about the direction of its fur or feathers. For flowers, lay the stitches for each petal at a different angle to create the shape, and bring leaves to life by angling the stitches in each to­ ward an imaginary center vein. As there are only three types of stitches, there are only six possible combinations of these stitches that can be used on any design (see the chart on the facing page). Noted digitizer, speaker, and teacher Wal­ ter Floriani of Floriani Embroidery in Tehachapi, Calif., recommends a recipe approach to stitch applica­ tion: Keep a file of small squares of sewn-out samples using different densities and fill patterns on a va­ riety of fabrics with different back­ ings, needles, and threads. I would also suggest making and keeping THREADS

.janome. com


.pfaff-us-cda. com

your design card or loading onto your


HusqvamajViking Embroidery System 5

Conversion software:

Amazing Designs Smart-Sizer

www www


Buzz Tools Plus

samples of stitch length and fab­ ric color. By testing many recipes and recording your swatch results on index cards, you can build a wealth of information to help you become a better digitizer. Before leaving behind the dis­ cussion of stitches, I want to men­ tion two other types that are im­ portant in machine embroidery, though they don't have to do with the design itself: jump stitches and lock stitches. Jump stitches are long single stitches used to get from one area of the design to another, which need to be trimmed when the em­ broidery is finished. It's best to avoid excessive jumps if possible by moving or rotating parts of the design slightly, because jumps may cause thread breaks. When you can't avoid jump stitches, plan them so they won't need to be sewn over. Lock stitches may be the most important stitches in the embroi­ dery process. These tie-off stitches end every thread segment before a move to another area or a color change, preventing raveling. They're used at the end of a design as well as key points within a design.



Pay attention to sequence Before starting a design, analyze it and plan how you're going to se­ quence your stitches. A well­ planned design will require less time to digitize, less editing, and will ultimately stitch out better. It will typically have a lower stitch count, faster sewing time, and less trimming of thread jumps. In general, sequencing should run from background to fore­ ground; from the center out; and from the design's largest to smallest areas with a minimum of jumps, trims, and color changes. The ulti­ mate goal is to plan the color se­ quencing with smooth transitions from one color to another, always trying to end one color where an­ other begins. This will minimize hoop movement, avoid unthread­ ing and rethreading needles, and decrease sewing time. Often you can avoid jump stitches by "walk­ ing" stitches across areas to be stitched over later, or even around the edges of the embroidery using l mm stitches. Your goal should be to keep the needle in the fabric as much as possible. Think of the de­ sign as one continuous piece of thread from start to end.

( The secret to keeping your sanity when digitizing a complicated de­ sign is to remember that all de­ signs, regardless of their complex­ ity, are really just a series of segments of recognizable shapes that require one of the six stitch combinations discussed earlier. By recognizing this, you can apply your test recipes to each segment and digitize almost anything.

to increase the densities slightly (you can also add underlay stitch­ es, which I'll discuss in a moment). Conversely, if your fabric color and thread are similar, you should be able to reduce density. Don't let your desire for absolute coverage conflict with sensible em­ broidery guidelines. There are ways to get solid coverage without ex­ cessive stitches. One alternative is to use underlay, and a second is to use a topping that will work as a color block (for more about top­ pings, see the previously men­ tioned article in Threads No. 86). A good test for determining the appropriate density of a design is to feel the embroidery. Run your finger over it, feeling for areas of heavy, lumpy density and stiffness. The goal is to find the density providing the desired coverage while leaving the embroidery soft and supple.

U nderstanding density Density refers to how close togeth­ er rows of fill stitches or individual satin stitches are (see the drawings on p. 67). A good way to under­ stand density is to imagine a pick­ et fence. If the fence is decorative but also keeps a dog in the yard, the pickets will have gaps between them of maybe 6 in. or so. But, if the fence is intended entirely for privacy, the pickets will be more closely spaced, and there will be U nderlay: layi ng the more pickets. groundwork Too much density will distort a A good underlay (see the drawings design by piling one stitch on top on p. 67) creates support for fill of another. It can also damage the and satin stitches by stabilizing the fabric, causing it to ripple and fabric and keeping the stitches on pucker, and result in thread and its surface. The underlay also needle breakage. The Golden Rule secures the backing to the fabric is: the narrower the column of satin so the backing and fabric act as stitches, the less dense they should one when you stitch out the design, the column, the be; the wider and it helps denser they prevent dis­ should be. tortion of All digitiz­ Any one of these stitches the stitches. ing software can be used alone or in combination with one or Most often, has default both of the other stitches. designs need settings for to be under­ stitch length Running laid. The exand density. Satin ceptions are You should Fill designs that know what have light, open fill stitches, run­ your settings are, what they mean, ning-stitch designs, and trapunto. and what thread weight they're set An underlay is needed when for. Heavy thread needs less stitch stitching over other stitching, espe­ density than lightweight thread to cially when stitches are laid in the get the same coverage. If there's a high contrast between the fabric same direction, in which case they won't have a sharp, even line where color and the thread, you may need


Mc c c:::•::J Vl',:J•'" u::• • •• .�

.j"co -E IVi�c.o B £

the areas meet. Underlay can pro­ vide a "ledge" for the stitches to grab onto, creating a clean, crisp edge. This same technique can keep stitches from looking jagged on thick fabrics like fleece, pique, terry cloth, velvet, or corduroy. An underlay is also useful to prevent a fabric from "bleeding," or showing, between stitches of the embroidery, and helps hold down a fabric's nap or pile as well. Underlay can also raise the embroidery to give it added support. In general, the less stable the fabric, the more underlay required; and the more pull in an area of stitching, the more underlay needed. Selecting the appropriate underlay again requires an understanding of the garment, fabric type and color, thread, and design.

Consider using just a small segment of your

to create a unique embrOidery design. For example, enclose part of the design in a triangle (as above). square, circle, or rectangle (as in design 3b on p. artwork

Testing your designs Always test your deSigns before stitching them out on your final product. looking at your design on the screen doesn't substitute for test-stitching it. And when you test, watch every stitch and carefully evaluate the design for sewing ef­ fiCiency. Check for technical prob­ lems and compare the sew-out to the artwork. So if you love the idea of creating wonderful designs on your com­ puter that you can sew on garments and home accessories, give digi­ tizing a try. If you're like me, you may just get hooked on this creative process.


Lindee Goodall of Tucson, Ariz., is the preSident of Cactus Punch Designs and teaches classes on machine embroidery at shows around the country.

april / may 2 0 0 0




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Tools of th e Tra de Quilti ng tools New or old, I like gadgets-as long as they work as claimed. When it comes to quilting tools, I'm a stick­ ler for accuracy. If a tool is off even in., you and I both know what that fraction means

Here's a look at some of the sewing, qui lting, and 'embellishing products now


o n the market.

you want to cut at any one time is a single block, this system is prob­ ably overkill. But if you can stack your fabrics (up to ten layers), you can save hours of work while ac­ curately cutting an entire top. Quilt­ Cut (shown at left) also comes with a sturdy carrying box and a clear, concise instruction manual (27 pages of photos, also available in color on their Web site). Mix M atch Tem­ p lates for Quilters Gune Tailor, PO Box 208, 2861 Hwy. 175, Richfield, Wl 5 3076; 262-644-5288) are matte­ plastic tracing templates for quilting and applique designs. Available in a variety of shapes, including that shown at left below, each $3 .49 pack comes with six graduated templates, with prepunched holes for hanging or keeping them together on the supplied key chain. The templates are too thin to use as guides for rotary cutting, but sturdy enough so the edges don't collapse when you pencil-trace around them. While accurate, I found an occasional uneven edge, which I corrected with an emery board. Most of the templates are also marked with registration lines. I created an additional right-angle registration with a permanent mark­ er, then mentioned this to the com­ pany, which said these lines will be added to all o[ their new shapes. Stamps by Kate ( 1 106 Rindge Lane, Redondo Beach, CA 90278; 310-374-6689; kackley@lausd.k12. are rubber-stamp cutting templates [or traditional quilt pat­ terns. I tried the Double Wedding Ring set (five pieces [or $44.95), not a simple design by anyone's



Mix 'n' Match Templates for Quilters

. .. .. --_ --- -....- --- ),\.A,\!) I /

when it's multiplied across the dozens of seamlines in a typical quilt top! So, when I'm testing a new tool, I check all measurements against a U.S. Bureau of Standards ruler. I re­ cently inspected a lot of new gad­ gets and found quite a few worthy of further investigation. Imagine cutting layers of fabric into strips, slicing those strips into squares, and then cutting the squares into triangles, all without moving the fabric or putting your fingers in jeopardy. No problem, with QuiltCut (Alto's, 703 N. Wenas, Ellensburg, WA 98926; 800-225-2497; www. quiltcut. com or, a fabric­ cutting system for rotary cutters. Set on a rigid 20- by 29-in. base, the $ 139.95 QuiltCut (add S&H to all prices) includes a cutting mat and a fabric clamping system, plus a sliding and pivoting cutting guide (a ruler to you and me) that can be positioned to the left or right of the cutting area (left-han­ ders, rejoice!). All you add is your rotary cutter and fabric. If all

// / . / // \ .. _ _ \ �..J ,I. \, " .. .I. .. ( __'-:�- / '"'", , ....._---------'" \

• 72


standards, and used the brown ink pad. The stamps are accurate and the pads elevated, so it's easy to apply ink to the stamp's entire sur­ face. The ink is permanent with heat-setting and doesn't bleed through the fabric. Since the stamps are wooden-topped, as shown be­ low, they obscure the fabric when stamping, which means you can't butt one cutting line right next to its neighbor as easily as when trac­ ing around clear templates. But stamping is so simple, fast, and accurate that this seemed a minor trade-off. After stamping, you cut away the outer solid line, leaving a )(-in. seam allowance and the dashed stitching lines. My machine-pieced wedding-ring sample worked like a charm, even without a pattern for the central shape, which Kate is now supplying

�- � �.\\ . I·· --'\ [�: e;"'�

Stamps by Kate

with each set. Directions are clear, with frequent tips. Seventeen other single stamps are offered in basic shapes and sizes from 1 to 4 in. ($3 .95-$ 15.95), and the $ 7.95 ink pads come in white, brown, or black. Perfect Patchwork Templates (Marti Michell Michell Marketing, Inc., PO Box 80218, Atlanta, GA 30366; 770-458-6500) are heavy templates for rotary cutting. They are �-in. thick, clear and accurate. tried Set A ($ 13), a 3-in. square plus six smaller triangles and squares, shown at the top of p. 74, that all fit within the larger square in various ways (seam allowances included). The corners are re-


moved, making it easier to match

Move up to BIG embroidery with the new PC¡6500.

Enjoy the creative freedom of a 5" x 7" embroidery field. And, for a limited time,

with the purchase of the PC-6500, you will also receive FREE, an extra memory card* and the optional Jumbo hoop, allowing you to create huge 5" x 1 2" designs (a $160 value). Trade in your Brother embroidery-only machine and you may receive up to $1 ,000 off the manufacturers suggested retail price of the PC-6500 and still be able to use your library of compatible embroidery design memory cards. Visit your local authorized Brother Pacesetter dealer today for more informa­ tion and a free demonstration. For the name of an authorized dealer near you call us at 1 -800-4-A-BROTHER or visit us on the web at:


Perfect Patchwork Templates


patches together, which makes sense and works well, as long as you're sure to cut your cor­ ners off to match the templates. The


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directions are detailed and come with block-pattern suggesti ons. Many other template sets and com­ panion pattern books are available. Sewing tools Need to apply a lot of ribbon or elastic? Elastic Wizard and Rib­ bon Wizard (Bonfit America, Inc., 4860 Higuera St. , Culver City, CA 90232; 310-204-7880; are presser-foot guid­ ing attachments for the sewing machine for j ust that purpose. Either $ 2 9 . 9 5 full set includes the gUide and a metal snap-on foot; some machines will require a $5 adapter to use the foot. The Ribbon


as many as six rib­ bon layers in vari­ ous widths, centered in a stack or stitched along the edge while you stitch in one pass. You can use straight or decorative stitches and need mini­ mal handling to keep everything in the gUide and flowing smooth­ ly. The Elastic Wizard holds and stretches the elastic while you stitch it onto fabric, gathering it in one pass. The degree of fab­ ric gathering is determined

by changing the gUide's knob pressure. This takes experi­ menting and varies with fabric weight and elastic type; you can't just preset it to gather a speCific amount of fabric onto a given length of elas­ tic. Since only one metal foot is necessary to use either guide, you can also purchase the gUides sep­ arately for $ 14.95 . You'll get best results using ribbon or elastic that fits snugly into the guide slots so the tension remains secure during sewing. Both guides come in dandy metal boxes with good directions. -Sandra


Finally, you can buy sheets of blank pattern tissue paper similar to that used by commercial pattern com­ panies. How often do you wish for some extra pattern paper to alter an existing pattern or design a new pattern? The perfect sheet must be large enough not to require piecing for sizeable proj ects and inexpen­ sive, so cost won't interfere with creativity. These are reasons to be excited about Thief River Blank Pattern Tissue (Thief River, PO Box 1 11 16, Kansas City, MO 64119; 816-454-1 289). Each package con­ tains four sheets measuring 59 in. by 46 in. It's great for pattern draft­ ing, qUilting, and other crafts, but has the added benefit of being cer­ tified acid-free, so it can be used for storing heirloom fabric. Available at select fabric stores or by mail, the paper is $4.75 each for one to two packages and $3.20 each for three to six packages; call for bulk pricing.

Cushions & Decorative Pillows" and "Learn to Make Slipcovers: The Removable Up­ holstery" (Home Decor Workshop, PO Box 1 20, West Fulton, NY 1 2 194; 800-383-3824). Driscoll's well-paced instruction follows a logical progression, as each video (complete in itself) guides you through the proj ect, whether cov­ ering pillows or cushions, or slip­ covering a chair or sofa. The in­ structions in the pillow/cushion video define and demonstrate mak­ ing knife-edged, pleated-corner, gathered-corner, circle, and flanged­ sham pillows, as well as the more complex boxed cushions. The in­ formation contained in the slip­ cover video shows how to calcu­ late the amount of fabric required, with instructions for cutting, pin­ ning, and sewing each section (back, deck, arms, and skirt) of stuffed furniture. She answered my questions before I'd even posed them, including tricky ones like how to slipcover a sofa bed. These tapes are rich in information and demystify deSigner-showroom treat­ ments with such precision that you'll be surprised how easy pil­ lows, cushions, and slipcovers are to make. As an added benefit, Home Decor Workshop is offering Threads readers the two-tape set for $ 50.00 plus $4 S&H. -J udy Neukam

Home decor If you're considering making slip­ covers or deSigner pillows, take a look at Clare Driscoll's $ 2 9 . 9 5

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View and print an entire disk of designs. Include multiple directories and designs stored in ".zip· archive files. Launch your embroidery software directly from your catalog by double clicking designs

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april/may 2 0 0 0


Q ui c k to M a ke If you're busy and h ave only limited time to sew, try these quick-to­

E M B RO I D E R E D F E LT T R I V ET S by Mary Jo Hiney

make ideas.

Recently I found a fascinating col­ lection of vintage wool-felt trivets and coasters at a flea market. They were all different shapes and adorned with lively, yet simple, embroidery. Geometric

and stars­ were cut out of the triv­ leaving holes that had been out­ lined with contrast­ ing whipstitches ( see a few examples from the collection on p. 78). was instantly inspired. How could make a modern version of these lovely antiques? The resulting trivets, shown on this page, not only reflect my love of graphic forms and delicate embroidery, but are also fu nctional. I'll show you how to make your own versions, which



I think you will find easy, fun, and also creatively satisfying. Wool felt is wonderful­ dense, yet thin, with a smooth, soft surface. But it's hard to find pure wool felt, or even blends. So made these trivets with readily available acrylic felt, which worked fine. later, however, I found terrific places to get real wool felt in loads of colors and weights (see "Wool felt by mail" on p. 78). Besides a supply of felt in colors you love, you'll need cotton embroidery thread, wood glue, and a package of J\'-in.-thick cork (available at hardware stores) to use as backing to protect your furniture. The cork backing is my addition to the vintage design, and to keep the cork from showing


through the cut-out shapes, I layered other colors of felt beneath them. Not only do the additional layers protect your tabletops from hot dishes, but they can also provide more opportunities to design find inspiration for trivet deSigns just about everywhere, but flipping through magazines is a quick way to find interesting patterns and shapes. Imagine your patterns and shapes in layers of color, then, using a sharp pencil and a ruler, draw the deSigns on fj-in. graph paper. Enlarge or reduce your drawings on a photocopier

THREE EASY EM BRO I D ERY ST I TC H ES The author inventively used only three embroidery stitches

Fly stitch

to decorate her trivets:

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Graphic possibilities of shape and color are endless with felt trivets.

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Make a felt trivet or coaster These basic instructions for creating

draw the pattern shapes for

felt trivets or coasters are flexible­

each color of over- or underlay. Cut

adjust the layering order so it makes

these out to use as templates for

sense to you. Sometimes an underlay­

cutting felt.

trivet with whi pstitches, using

patch smaller pieces under a larger

2. Cut out all the pieces of felt, and 3. Pin, baste, or fuse the overlay shapes in place on the felt base piece. 4. Whipstitch the overlays in place

shape that becomes the base. For the

with embroidery floss, working from

stitches as desired.

embroidery stitches, experiment with

the center out.

er works well as a base (for example, when there are lots of cut-outs with the same color felt behind them); other times it makes more sense to

using three or six strands of embroi­ dery floss: Some colors have less i mpact than others and

choose the largest pattern for the base.

5. Whipstitch the underlayer sections on the trivet's back, using a match­ ing color of sewing thread.

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6. Outline the underlayer shapes as well as the

more strands.

design elements in order to create the paper patterns for your trivets. Before assembling your trivets, take these steps to eliminate the "frizzies" that often accompany acrylic felt and could obscure your embroidery work: First, preshrink the felt in hot water and dry it in the dryer. Then mist the dried felt with water and iron it dry. Ironing acrylic felt usually causes the felt to melt, shrink, and stick to your iron, but preshrinking the felt eliminates this problem.

embroidery floss in contrasting colors. Embroider additional decorative

7. M ist the back of the trivet, then iron dry. Do the same for the front of the trivet.

8. Cut the cork Ya i n . smaller than the outside perimeter of the trivet. 9. Use wood glue to bind the cork to the back of the trivet.

perimeter of the

Frizzies are not a big problem if you are using 100% wool felt or a blend of wool and rayon. But these fibers will also benefit from the preshrinking process. Follow the steps shown above to assemble and embroider your trivets (the stitches I've used are illustrated on p. 76). Cut a piece of cork in. smaller than the trivet's outer dimensions, and use wood glue to bind the cork to the back of the trivet. That's it. These stur­ dy, functional examples of your design and embroidery skills will liven up your dining table or serve as delightful coast­ ers to sprinkle about your home.


Mary J o Hiney of Los Osos, Calif., is

a designer and author of


books on

decorative accessories for the home (published by Sterling).

Inspiration comes from anywhere. These Vin tage wool-felt trivets and coasters, simply and sweetly embroidered, were fou n d at a flea market.




















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Delicious Details Here are some of the best details we've come across recently.


Let us know you r design or construc­ tion ideas for using them i n garments or

For this issue, the Threads editors hit the road, seeking out vintage­ garment shows, and searching

specifically for neckline, collar, and closure details that would inspire and delight. As usual, we are going to leave the construction steps up to your ingenuity, and we hope that you will share with us all of the uses

and methods you've come up with after viewing these details. Take a moment to check out our Web site ( for the contributions of other Threads readers in response to earlier columns-and send in yours.

soft furnishings. And tell us about the best

Button-down self-fabric scarf

details you've come

Attached at shoulder seam. Each buttonhole holds a jacket button and scarf button. Seen on: Vintage dress. Could be used: On coats. jackets, skirts (at hip). blouses. Variations: Use contrast fabrics. sheers; attach at side or center-back seam.

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Contrast Insets Seen on: Vintage dress. Could be used: Almost anywhere. Variations: Shape. position, color; contrast fabrics and

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False vest tips Seen on: Vintage jacket. Could be used: On any closure. cuff, hem. Variations: Color. shape, layers. position.



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FANTASTIC FlBERS (March 25-May 6, 2 00 1 ) Na­ tional Exhibition. Slides and resume April 1 - June

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COVERED BUTTONS, belts, buckles. Your fabric.

30, 2000. SASE. Art quilts, rugs, sculptures, baskets,

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BUTTONS GALORE Dress-it-up buttons and embell­


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DeadlineJor theJune/Ju ly, 2000 is March 10, 2000.


patterns, designs for quilting, crochet, em broidery,

PURE SILKS-dyed/woven to order and airmailed worldwide. Ideal for weddings, specials etcl

BUTTONS-UNIQUE AND EXCITING! Large selec­ tion over 1700 styles. Call for information. Full color

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Advertiser Index/Reader Service Information Use readerinsidservie backce cover.card Readerce Servi 3 12 41 43 86 148 123 70 173

Advertiser, page




T's Embroidery Supply, p. 77

Acme Counlry Fabrics, p. 92 All Brands, p. 85

Alpha Impressions , p. 84 AlterYears, p. 84

Alto's QuiltCut, p. 7 Amazing DeSigns, p. 13

Amazon Drygoods, p. 91 American Sewing Guild, p. 75

Readerce Servi No.

71 38 157 186 56 141

Anjoorian Silks, p. 84

24 179 68 150 183 85 91 57 106 180 181 182 121 137 1 56 58 23 13 151 168 90

Anne Powell, Ltd., p. 90 Apple Annie Fabrics, p. 82 Arrowmont School, p. 70 As Cute As A Sulton, p. 88

Baby Lock, p. 3 Bag Lady/jT Williams Assoc., 1'. 28 Barudan America, Inc., p. 1 1 Batiks Etcetera, p. 82 Beacon Fabric

Notions, p. 82

The Bee Lee Company, p. 82 Bernina, p. 25 Bernina , p. 23 Bernina, p. 2 7

177 184 108 45 10 107 40 160 117

Keepsake QU il li ng Supplies, p. 85 Kiyo Design Inc., p. 86

EmbroideryArts, p. 77 E n core DeSigns, p. 90 Erdal Yarns, p. 92 eQuiller, p. 1 1, p. 89 Eucalan Inc., p. 7 Euro-Pro Corp. , p. 1 5 Fabric Direct, p. 87 Fabric Gallery, p. 87 The Fabric Studio, p. 90 Fabrics lor the Great OUldoors, p. 87 fabrics To-Dye-For, p. Fabrics Unlimited, p. 1 1 Fabulous fit, p. 2 1 Farthingales Fabrics, p. 86 Fashion Passion fabric, p. 81 Fashion Patterns by Coni, p. 88 Fiesta en Santa Fe, p. 88 Fishman's Fabrics, Inc., p. 75 Filling Tips, p. 84 Folkwear Patterns, p. 7 0 G Street Fabrics, p. 70 General Label Mfg.,

Brother, p. 73 Suzz Tools Plus, p. 75 Cactus Punch, p. 81 Carol Lane-Saber Designs, p. 89 ChristineJonson Patterns, p. 92 C1otilde, p. 85 Coats


Clark, p. 2

Cochenille Design Studio, p. 9 1 Collins Publications, p. 91 Creative Costume Assoc., p. 91



Festival, p. 2 7 Creative Stitches, p. 88 CUlling Corners, p. 88 DA'MAX,



Dan, Inc., p. 87 DiCarlo Fabrics, p. 9 1 Dimples, p 85 Dress-Rite Forms, p. 87 Earth Guild, p. 84

46 21 132 69 37 162 62 147 171 155 175 81 144 2 161


Elan Pallerns, p. 90

RL Boone, p. 84 Brown Paper Pallerns, p. 89

Advertiser, page

Elegance Unlimited, p. 90

Blueprints-Printables, p. 85

Creative Sew

27 63 17 103 6 152



Euro-Pro Corp. , p. 1 7

American Stitches, p. 70 Angelina di Bello, p 7

Readerce Servi

Adver t i scr, page II

Ghee's, p. 77



Ginsco Trims, p. 70 Gioello Enterprises, p. 83 Goldblall Cut Rate Disl., p. 85 Grande Pallern Company, p. 88 The Green Pepper, Inc., p. 85 Hamilton Books, p. 90 Hard-to-Find Needlework Books, p. 84 Harpagon Bride, p. 86 Havel's, Inc., p. 84 Hemp Traders, p. 89 Homespun fabrics,



Honey Bee BUllon, p. 85 Islander Sewing Systems, p. 2 7 Islander Sewing Systems, p. 75 Janet


42 9 60 29 94 115 119 154 136 73 178 102 72 133 100 166 89 145 176 76 54 159 75 34 87 142 55 163 172 14 4

jean-a-ma-jig, p. 89 judith M Design, p. 88 Karen's Kreations, p. 83

Lace Museum, p. 91 Leandro fabrics, p. 83 Leesburg Looms, p. 86 Les Fabriques, p. 89 Lifetime Career Schools, p. 90 Linen House, p. 88 Loes Hinse Design, p. 84 Lorraine Torrence Designs, p. 83 Lumenlightcom, p. 92 Martha's Sewing Market, p. 2 1 Mary Eldridge fabrics, p. 90 Mary Wales Loomis, p. 82 Material Things, p. 82 j . MacLeod, p 82 Miami University, p. 83 Michael's Fabric, p. 83 M onterey, Inc., p. 1 1 Mutual Fabrics, p. 84

15 59


153 18 140 44 126 165 164

Name Maker, Inc., p. 87 Nancy's Notions, Ltd., p. 9 1 Newark Dressmaker Supply, p. 8 7 Northeast Quilt festival, p. 87

Advertiser, page II

Sailrite Kits, p. 86 Sawyer Brook Fabrics, p. 85 Sawyer Brook Fabrics, p. 90 Seallie fabrics, p. 89 Sew Sassy fabrics, p. 83 Sewgrand Pallerns, p. 91 Sewin' i n Vermont, p . 86 Sewing NOlions, p. 21 Sewing Studio, p. 86 The Sewing Workshop Collection, p. 77 SewPro Workshop, p. 28 Shipwreck Beads, p. 83 Sievers School o r fiber Arts, p. 75 Silkpaint Corp., p. 88 SilkWorks, p. 88 Silver Lining Designs, p. 89 Smoke


fire Co., p. 86

Southwest Decoratives, p. 87 Spandex House, p. 91 Specialty Lace, p. 7 Stretch


Sew, Inc., p. 1 1

Successrul Sewing Book

My Twin Dress Form, p. 85

138 143

Club, p. 19 Super Silk, p. 83 Swoyer Publishing, p. 83 Taunton Direct, p. 79

Oriental Silk Company, p. 2 1

Tex-Styles Fabrics, p. 88

P ACe, p 87

Textile Studio, p. 88

Paragon Pallerns, p. 83 Park Bench Pallern Co., p. 87 PallernMaker Software, p. 28 The Pallern Studio, p. 89 Pavelka Design Studio, p. 85 Peters Valley Crafl Education, p. 8 7 Prarr, p 7 1 Power Sewing, p. 28 PRO Chemical


Dye, p 85

Promenade Enterprises, Inc., p. 84 Quilts


Other Comforts, p. 89

Rain City Publishing, p 81 The Rainshed, p. 84 Renaissance BUltons, p. 8 9

Company, p. 8 6

janome America, p. 9

Lj. Designs, p. 91 La fred, p. 91

Readerce Servi 128 51 146 35 80 114 66 120

The Ribbon Club, p. 91 Rowenra, Inc., p. 95 Royalwood Ltd., p. 84 Rupert, Gibbon


Spider, p. 83

65 67 47 33 113 7 139 99 167 158 74 149

Texuba, p. 28 Thai Silks, p. 77 Theatrical Supplies Inc., p. 90 Thread Pro


Sew Zone, p. 86

Threads at Gingerbread Hill, p. 85 TreadleArt, p. 92 U ltraScraps, p. 86 Unique Spool, p. 92 Utica Thread, p. 90 Viking Sewing Machines., p. 29 Virginia Marti Fabrics, p. 90 Vreseis Limit ed, p. 92 Water Fountain Software, p. 90 Weather or Not Fabrics, p. 83 Wild Ginger So ftware Inc., p. 77 Wildly Wonderful Wearables, p. 86 You Can Make It, Inc., p. 84 Zipper Source, p. 83

april/may 2 0 0 0


C losures Have comments you want to s hare about sewing or needlework? A

S EWI N G A N D FA S H I O N AT S EA by Greg Dill

funny or interesting story about your embellishing or q uilting adventures? A page from your sketchbook we ought to see? Send it to:

Threads Closures,

6 3 S. Main St., PO Box 5 506, Newtown, CT 06470-5506.



In my dusty collection of anti­ quarian books about the sea, there is one leather-bound seaman's manual that speaks volumes about the sewing skills of sailors (and the value of books) in the early 19th century. The book is an in­ struction manual intended to teach seamen the fine points of fighting with a cutlass, properly loading and firing a cannon, and engaging other sailing vessels in combat. While the manual has provided me with valuable research material, its most compelling feature may not be the text, but a ripped page. From those days before cellophane tape, a previous owner has left us with a vivid appreciation for an essential skill not covered in this book: the ancient art of sewing at sea. The ripped page was repaired lovingly by draWing the edges to­ gether with a very delicate and neat stitch called a "sailmaker's darn." The mend is still holding after al­ most 200 years of page turning. I suppose a sailor's skill with a needle and thread should not have surprised me since he has been cutting and sewing sails for at least 4,000 years and probably longer. And he has always used worn or discarded sail material for sewing personal clothing. In the Royal Navy of the 17th and 18th cen­ turies, one afternoon per week was designated as "make and mend" time so that sailors could repair, design, and sew new clothing ap­ propriate to their shipboard duties. Those fortunate few who could afford to buy ready-made clothing

did so at appOinted times from the "slop chest" (yes, slop and sloper are etymologically related). The chest was a veritable "boutique in a box" under the supervision of the ship's purser. By an admiralty order of 1706, the slop chest was to con­ tain a number of specific garments for the seaman, made to surpris­ ingly rigid specifications, such as: "striped shag breeches, lined with linen, with three leather pockets and 14 white tin buttons, the but­ tonholes stitched with white thread, at the rate of 10 shillings, 6 pence." In reality, few poor sailors could afford such expensive clothing, and so their only recourse was to save up bits of cloth from discarded clothes and sails, piecing them to­ gether to make quite serviceable items of apparel. When closures were not available for their cre­ ations, they carved bits of bone or ivory into decorative buttons or toggles. Garments were water­ proofed by applying tar to the fab­ ric's surface, giving rise to a sailor

being called a "tar." Thus, necessity forced the sailor to develop stitch­ ery and tailoring skills not only to repair his vessel's sails but also to adequately clothe himself. One of the sailor's most memo­ rable pieces of clothing was deSigned by Captain W. Washington of the Royal Navy in 182 5 . Washington decided his boat crew would look much smarter if they wore matching short, white-and blue-striped jackets. This unofficial habit was a radical departure from the serendipitous dress of crewmen who had sewn their own clothes. The "uniform" became so admired by other cap­ tains and visitors to his ship, HMS Blazer, that the garment was widely copied, became a fashion sensa­ tion in civilian society, and quickly earned the nickname "blazer."

Greg Ocean Navigator Cruising Helmsman

Dill is a nautical-history writer for

magaZine (U.S.) and (Australia) and lives

in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, with his sewing-fanatic Wife, Donna.


When only a profession finish will d

Your projects deserve the professional finish the Rowenta Steam Generator can offer. The lightweight iron combined with a separate

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Incomparable Hildegarde for performances, the Mount Mary College in Milwaukee, Wis.

Threads magazine 88 may 2000  
Threads magazine 88 may 2000